My First Ice Hockey Game

I managed to get to my first ever Ice Hockey Game this evening. The San Jose Sharks were playing a home game against fierce rivals, the LA Kings. As I’m here for the week in Palo Alto, literally down the road, it seemed churlish not to grab the opportunity with both hands find cheap tickets and head on down.

So with a couple of tickets in the “nosebleed” section right at the top of San Jose’s SAP Centre, we caught the train and joined another 17,000 people to watch the match. And what an experience.

The Experience

The Americans certainly put on a show. From High School football to National Leagues, everything is branded, commercialised, loud, and energetic. It’s a great experience. Kids are wished happy birthday on the big screen, veterans paraded on the ice cleaning machines, you can tweet your favourite song for the soundtrack, and everyone is wearing a jersey. Everyone bar the two n00b Aussies that is.

Probably because of how expensive the merchandise is.

As expected the food too is expensive and crap. I don’t mean crap in taste. I’m addicated to high carb, fat, salt, and processed food as the next person. But almost U$7 for a dry bun, with a processed vienna in it, is well, asking a bit much. I almost missed those meat pies you get at the rugby.

The Game

The sport itself is amazing to watch. So fast, with an incredible subtlety in teamwork. In fact I’d suggest, like the AFL, it’s almost impossible to watch on TV. There are so many plays, and momentum created where the puck isn’t and suddenly the game changes.

Also the players. I couldn’t keep up with the 12 players on the ice at any time. They seamlessly rotate off every 1 – 2 mins. And there was no way for me to figure out whom was offensive, and whom defensive.

Talk about a visceral experience. The next time I watch this I’ll be lower down, closer to the action. The speed, the momentum, the force, the contact, and the occasional fights, all lent to a deep primal response. It’s easy to see why the fans are so dedicated. We were cheering with the rest of the crowd, groaning at misses, and gutted when our team, the Sharks lost in a Sudden Death Extra Time.

We had been winning, possession, plays, shots, pretty much everthing, until the Kings scored an equaliser with 12.3 seconds to go in the last period. Then a goal in the 3 on 3, 5 min extra time, with less than a minute to go.

What a night.


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