Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Jessie....What did he just say?!!"

November 2011

This month I cracked off another stereotypical American event I’ve wanted to do since getting here. That is attend an Ice Hockey game. The opportunity came about through Jessie, who I have developed a slight tradition of going to most UNC football games with, and her cousin who were planning on going to the Carolina Hurricanes game vs The Philadelphia Flyers. Needless to say when offered I did not turn it down one little bit!

The game was held in Raleigh, at the Ice Hockey stadium (obviously) which apparently also doubles up as a concert venue (not so obviously…), and so Jessie’s cousin, David and his family picked us up from campus and drove us there. The family were really nice and chatty, and seemed to enjoy a good laugh, although at times it seemed to be my expense (price of being the foreigner I guess!). On the way to the stadium we stopped off at Chik-fil-a for dinner (it’s a fast food chain for you Brits, and not bad either!), and had a tailgate in the parking area before the game, with me getting filled in on the basic rules of Ice Hockey and general family banter passing among everyone. As we started to make a move into the stadium, I was presented a selection of clothing to wear in support of a team, and not having a clue what was going on (what’s new) I chose a jersey at random. I later realised that all of the family except Sally were rooting for the Flyers, as they originated or went to college there (I forget which one it is) and the kids were following their Dad, with Jessie supporting the Flyers because of her mums allegiance (terrible I know). Anyways I didn’t realise this at the time, and thank god I picked out the red Canes jersey so I was rooting for the team I had the most affiliation with (ok, it’s not much affiliation but at least I’ve lived in North Carolina – I’ve never even been to Philadelphia!). 
Pre-match Warm-up
Pre-match Redness

The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. The teams were warming up as we got in, and music was blaring and crowds cheering. We watched the teams’ right by the rink side for a little bit, enabling a good photo opportunity! As we sat in our seats the spectacle really began, with lights flashing and music blaring as the teams came out. I noticed very early on that whoever decided on what music gets played at these games either really likes thrash metal music, or else that’s the stereotypical clientele that attends these games. I’m gonna guess it’s the latter to be honest…

The game itself was good to watch, fast paced action, lots of barging and rough and tumble going on. A few fights occurred which is always good to watch (let’s be honest, the only reason for watching Ice Hockey at home is for the fights!) and even a slight concussion of the Keeper who was knocked down backwards into the goal. I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of everyone around me constantly asking about the rules and stuff, but hell you have to learn somehow! Being one of two Canes fans in the group I was with also meant I made friends (well, became acquainted with) an interesting character sitting next to me, who found it very amusing I was sitting with a crowd of Flyers fans, and even more amusing that I was English and at an Ice Hockey game. I just found him incredibly hard to understand with the loud music and INCREDABLY southern accent. But he provided someone to high five when the Canes scored so that was good at least, even if I couldn’t understand every other word he said!

The real entertainment was crowd watching and the activities at the period breaks (Ice Hockey has 3 periods for those of you that didn’t know), which involved eating a huge burger meal in under 30 minutes (he failed) some sort of music chairs game on the ice (basically everyone falling over) and some random game involving eating spicy wings and solving anagrams that were all of 4 letters long. All for pretty decent prizes as well to be honest! There was also a dance competition for t-shirts (none of us got any – I blame Jessie for her terrible dance moves!). The sheer intensity of the game, which I have come to realise is the game for almost all American sports now, was immense and I really found myself swept up in it. I just couldn’t get over the usage of metal music for everything, and the rather laughable films of the players looking hard into the camera all serious like. Both Jessie and I agreed that we would never be able to do that and would end up pulling a face and being silly – not the most conducive thing to do if you’re trying to scare the other team I guess!

Unfortunately the Flyers won 5-3, which meant that Sally and I had to put up with the other bragging on the way back to Chapel Hill. Blood wish the Canes had won! It was a great match to watch and experience, and a great evening all round with yet another incredibly friendly and generous family. I am seriously lucking out with peoples generosity here – will definitely have to reciprocate in Manchester to balance out the Karma or something! If the Joseph family are reading this then thank so very much again for your hospitality and putting up with my British-ness! And thanks to Jessie for inviting me along! As the guy sitting next to me at the game said, I think I may become addicted to watching the sport now… God help my grades next year back in Manchester!

In our soon to become traditional sport-watching pose

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