Real Hockey! (Sort of)

This morning I headed downtown to meet Heather B. and Courtney C. for a open practice at HSBC arena. This was the first time I had ever been anywhere near live hockey on any level. I have to say, the experience exceeded all expectations.

First impressions:

-It’s totally cold inside a hockey rink. (I’m thinking this has something to do with the ice.)

-The rink is a lot smaller than it looks on television.

-The skating is amazingly fast and often incredibly graceful. I was quite surprised at how entertained I was watching them skate in gentle circles.

-Hockey drills are weird. Most of it looked like incomprehensible swirling, but every few drills would be something sort of fun and competitive. Hank and Staffy played a particularly amusing round of “I’m going to knock you out of the circle/No, I’m going to knock YOU out of the circle.”

-A hockey scrimmage is hilarious. The teams were “Blue” and “Gold”, but everyone seemed to be calling the Gold team “Yellow”. The main trouble was we didn’t know who half the players were and lots of guys were wearing the wrong numbers. (For example there were two 23’s, and even worse, there was a non-Numminen 27. How rude.) It’s hard to choose a side when both teams are made up of Sabres, so our little crew decided that it would be best to cheer for a tie in hopes of seeing a scrimmage shoot-out. The tie was not to be, however, as I accidentally cheered too hard for the Yellow team and empowered Derek Roy to a late game burst of productivity. The Yellow Team won, 7-5.

Shocking realizations:

-Andrew Peters has lots of squealing admirers. Wha-aa? Every time he came out on the ice he was accompanied by a round of totally earnest (and un-ironic) cheering. This didn’t surprise me when it happened to Ryan Miller, but Andrew Peters? All I can figure is he must be doing some extremely sexy work as the team’s NHLPA representative.

-Thomas Vanek displays no outward signs of his insane wealth. I think I half expected him to be sporting a ridiculous gold grill, or Mr. T. style neck chains, but no, he looked pretty normal. Seeing Vanek in person reminded me that I’m going to need to forgive him for his slutty summer before the season starts. I’m still pretty annoyed with him, and I found myself cheering against him in all of the little practice drills. He and I cannot continue in this passive aggressive relationship for too much longer. Something’s got to give.

– Jason Pominville is not very big. I thought he was one of the huge strapping guys, but in truth he is closer in size to Roy than to Goose.

Scrimmage tested jokes:

Meeting Heather and Courtney was a blast. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous meeting internet friends, but it was totally easy. Within a few minutes of meeting, things shifted from slightly awkward, to comfortable, to hilarious. In no time flat, we had an arsenal of jokes with which to work, ranging from the silly to the super-silly. We laughed at Pommerdoodle, we softly shouted hair care tips, and we alternately encouraged and discouraged their overly-feisty scrimmage behavior. We had all noted a particularly funny headline over at Sabre Rattling, “Free Teppo”, and the Free Teppo joke got quite a bit of mileage. Also, we spent a lot of time shouting into imaginary megaphones.

The Mysterious Stranger:

In a misguided attempt to save our seats with our programs (two photocopied pages, hilariously titled “The Training Camp News” by the way), we lost our rosters. This lead to trouble once the scrimmage began and we had no idea who a lot of the younger players were. I was quickly smitten with one guy who we referred to during the entire scrimmage as “Yellow 19”. I see big things in Yellow 19’s future, both as a player and as a heartthrob.

Yellow 19 (whoever he is) is one to watch.

———

This practice was great. Not only did I get a (nearly) front row seat to the action, but the overall vibe was quite relaxing. There were maybe a couple hundred people there, and the atmosphere in the crowd was quite subdued. I might even go back tomorrow with my ipod and a few Sudoku puzzles and just sit quietly, soaking in the experience.

Note to Sabres management: I realize that we had a rough weekend, what with the Teppo suspension and all, but I’m going to go ahead and make one more gentle suggestion. For the love of Lindy Ruff, get these guys off the side of our building before the season starts. Are you trying to make us cranky?

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21 Responses to “Real Hockey! (Sort of)”


  1. 1 Heather B. September 17, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Free Teppo!

    And Hank will kick Staffy’s ass any day of the week!

    Can you believe Darcy failed to meet me at my car?! I thought the shouted directions were pretty clear!

  2. 2 Steph September 17, 2007 at 1:19 am

    Andrew Peters has lots of squealing admirers. Wha-aa? Every time he came out on the ice he was accompanied by a round of totally earnest (and un-ironic) cheering.

    Oh how totally unConklinlike! Well that ends that dream of finding a suitable replacement. I mean, unless by “lots” you mean “one really loud girl with a tacky sign.”

  3. 3 Schnookie September 17, 2007 at 1:20 am

    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HockeyHockeyHockeyHockey!!!!!!!! Pommerdoodling!!!!

    (Meeting interweb friends is the weirdest and most wonderful thing, isn’t it? It’s like one minute you’re in a very awkward place with someone you don’t think you know, and the next minute you’re hanging out with an old buddy with whom you have an arsenal of old stories and in-jokes. I for one am hoping to never have to make friends with a person in person ever again.)

  4. 4 Heather B. September 17, 2007 at 1:23 am

    Free Teppo!

    Hank will kick Staffy’s unibrowed ass any day of the week!

    And can you believe that Darcy failed to meet me at my car? I thought my shouted directions were more than clear.

    (I thought I posted this so sorry if it comes up twice.)

  5. 5 ccomfort September 17, 2007 at 8:04 am

    You guys are the best!
    I am sitting here laughng my pants off, and getting really weird looks from people walking by my desk!

    It was really fun, I had the greatest time yesterday.

    Free Teppo is my new slogan for 2008!
    Courtney

  6. 6 Amy September 17, 2007 at 8:42 am

    -It’s totally cold inside a hockey rink. (I’m thinking this has something to do with the ice.)

    Sabres.com says the arena’s at 58 degrees. I think they’re lying. Or maybe it just feels colder.

    And have no fear, I think the new team photo gets put up on that breezeway once the new team photo is taken at the end of camp. Then the icky and gross Ranger and Flyer will be gone for good.

  7. 7 Meg September 17, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Sounds like tons of fun you guys!

    Also, Andrew Peters? Eww.

  8. 8 Pookie September 17, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Hank will kick Staffy’s unibrowed ass any day of the week!

    I’d like to see him try! No, really, I’d like to see him try. I want to go to practice starring players I recognize!

  9. 9 Sam September 17, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Thomas Vanek displays no outward signs of his insane wealth. I think I half expected him to be sporting a ridiculous gold grill, or Mr. T. style neck chains, but no, he looked pretty normal.

    Well, of course he does. Good Minnesota boys do not spend their hard-earned money on such ridiculousness. (Yes, yes, I know, Vanek’s Austrian. But he went to the U, which is enough for us to claim him as we do all other celebrities who ever set a single foot in the state. That’s how we got Sam Shephard, too.)

    On another note, be glad that your team just calls its scrimmage teams Blue and Gold. The Wild name their scrimmage teams every day after two of the four “team principles”: honesty, passion, preparation, and team. (Well, they use three of the four. There is no Team Team, for obvious reasons.) So far this preseason, Team Honesty is 2-0, Preparation is 0-3, and Team Passion is 1-0. Not that you asked…

  10. 10 Gambler September 17, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    SO JEALOUS!!!!! I hate school for making me miss out on this fun time! I hope you guys cheered for Yo-Yo on my behalf.

    I was pommerdoodling so hard yesterday when I found out the Sabres are playing the Wild in a pre-season game! But for some reason it’s being played in North Dakota and not in St Paul. What gives, Hockey Gods? Why must you tease me so?

    Vanek with a grill would be hilarious! Although I hope Sam’s right that Minnesota has rubbed off on him.

  11. 11 Meg September 17, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    There is no Team Team, for obvious reasons.

    That’s too bad, because it would really be pretty amusing. I would totally have to root for Team Team over those other principles. I mean, honesty, who needs that?

  12. 12 Gambler September 17, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    I would totally root for Team Team, too, Meg. But I think the Wild just didn’t want to seem like they were copying my IPBSuperleague team.

  13. 13 Meg September 17, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    That must be what it is, Gambler. They know they could never measure up.

  14. 14 Markb September 17, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    First off:

    “Hank will kick Staffy’s unibrowed ass any day of the week!”

    In your dreams, my dear.

    And Kate – I went up to the scrimmage for a few minutes today and there was a #19 named Allard. Not sure of his first name. And Amy is right. The new mural/banner outside is usually unveiled right before the season starts.

    After the performance by the Bills yesterday, I really regretted not joining you lovely ladies for the practice. Darn!

  15. 15 Meg September 17, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    “I went up to the scrimmage for a few minutes today and there was a #19 named Allard.”

    Jean-Simon. He’s a center with the St. John’s Fog Devils. That’s all I know though.

  16. 16 Schnookie September 17, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    The Wild name their scrimmage teams every day after two of the four “team principles”: honesty, passion, preparation, and team. (Well, they use three of the four. There is no Team Team, for obvious reasons.) So far this preseason, Team Honesty is 2-0, Preparation is 0-3, and Team Passion is 1-0. Not that you asked…

    That is the single most awesome thing I’ve heard today. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite team from that list, though. I mean, Team Passion is rife with so much unintentional hilarity, but Team Honesty seems so earnest. And Team Preparation? Seriously? (I hope the Devils had to ditch the “team principles” naming system when they realized Team Coach-Killing was winning all the scrimmages.)

  17. 17 Katebits September 17, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Aren’t the Devils scrimmage teams, Team Hepatitis A, Team Hepatitis B, and Team Hepatitis C?

  18. 18 Katebits September 17, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Oh ,and Mark, I am glad you recognize the error of your ways! I think it’s safe to assume from now on that hockey (any hockey) with me, Heather, and Courtney is going to be more fun than the stupid old Bills. :D

  19. 19 will September 18, 2007 at 9:28 am

    i want to hear the outcome of team passion’s matchup with team honesty. who wins the battle of the undefeateds?

    and seriously, when will team preparation’s gm make some moves already? their fanbase must be enraged at this late point in the preseason.

  20. 20 Courtney S.F. September 19, 2007 at 12:06 am

    I can’t believe you’re cheating on me with another Courtney. I also can’t believe how many comments you get on this thing. I guess hockey is more popular than knitting which truly boggles my mind. In any case, I’m all for meeting interwebs friends in person. I now get together every Sunday for brunch with my interwebs folks and it’s quite nice. You go girl.

  21. 21 Katebits September 19, 2007 at 7:00 am

    Courtney S.F (..if that is your real name), it would seem that hockey and knitting are equally popular, at least with this bunch. The conversation over on IPB often turns to knitting. You should become a hockey fan!

    Jooooin us. Jooooooin us!


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