I am what is known in running circles as a Penguin. I run purely for the pleasure of running. I am fat and slow, but I love to log long distances on my feet. My goals are never more than to simply finish a race, and I will never set a course record. However, there is still some small part of me that wishes I could qualify for the only race in America that holds pre-requisites for Continue reading
I recently had one of the best experiences I have ever had with customer service. I am originally from the Northeast (Massachusetts to be specific). I found a brand, Northeast Represent, as a proud Bostonian and someone who like to buy clothes I instantly liked their line of clothes.
I ordered a shirt and a hat. When I checked out it never asked for my physical address which concerned me. I emailed them to make sure it wasn’t a scam. Within a day I received an answer explaining that they had my address thanks to pay pal and they confirmed my order. I asked several questions to which the owner was informative and prompt.
So I sat patiently for my order. A week or so later I received an email which said,
As many of you may know from my earlier post “My Camden Family” I am from the north, specifically, Boston, Massachusetts. Many of you would call me a Yankee– as a Bostonian and Red Sox fan I find this to be an ugly and insulting term but I love you all anyways. Where I come from we have snow. Lots of snow.
This is my first year without a winter. It was fabulous; no shoveling, no ear muffs, I even went to the beach in January. Despite this subtropical lifestyle I still missed the cold and it was for exactly one reason: Despite having a wicked (Bostonian for very) fun ANHL team, the Ice Rays, there are no hockey fans down here. I was baffled. Hockey is a lifestyle in the north; even more so in Canada. I was inspired. In a short series of blogs I am hoping to teach y’all why hockey is possibly the greatest sport ever and what exactly these crazy, mullet sporting, masochistic athletes are doing when they are on the ice.
Once you’re an expert on the coolest game on earth you can have your friends over to your Camden Apartment to witness who gets to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup, eat Canadian Bacon, drink an ice cold Canadian beer (root beer for all of you underage), and enjoy the orchestrated violence.
“My teeth weren’t that good to begin with, so hopefully I can get some better ones.”
I will say that I can’t ice skate so I have never played but I was born as a Northeastern University Husky Hockey and Boston Bruins Hockey fan. I have watched the game for 24 years and I was taught the rues by my Great Uncle, Fernie Flaman, who won the Stanley Cup twice on an original six team.
Let’s start at the very beginning…
This is a Hockey Rink (Not actual size)
Typically, a basketball court hides a hockey rink in northern cities. As a former wrestler who is slightly short, can’t jump and has a lower free- throw percentage than Shaq the best thing about basketball courts are the ice underneath or wrestling mats on top. But as an invasion sport, Hockey should be easy for you basketball fans to understand.
Instead of the 5-person teams of basketball, hockey has six men on the ice in normal play. The forward, left-wing and right-wing make up the majority of the offence. In addition there are two defencemen and a goalie who make up the defense. The goalie can, and will regularly be, pulled to add an additional forward to increase the chances of scoring.
The two teams play three, twenty-minute periods. If tied at the end of the three periods there is a sudden death overtime. If still tied at the end of the overtime period the two teams enter a shoot out. For a shoot out five players from each team alternate shooting one shot against the opposing goalie. The team with the most goals in the shoot out wins. If tied at the end of the shoot out (during the regular season) the game ends in a tie.
The game starts with a face off, the equivalent to a jump ball in basketball. The ref drops the puck and one player from each team tries to pass the puck to a teammate. Play begins from here. During play the most important thing to watch is the relation of the players to the puck. The puck dictates who can be where and when.
Let’s say there is a team with their defensive end, the end with their goalie, on the left side of the rink. When skating to the right side of the rink, the team’s offensive end, the puck must cross the blue line closest to the opponents goalie before any offensive players do. If a player skates in before the puck and touches it, it is considered offsides. This results in a face off in center ice (between the two blue lines) closer to the team which caused the infraction. This rule prevents one player on a team from sitting in front of the opponent’s goal the entire game ready to dump the puck in. If the puck is in the offensive zone the defensive team will try to “clear the puck” this means they will try to hit it past the blue line. This forces the offensive team to leave the offensive zone before touching the puck again or be charged with an offsides call.
Offsides is what makes the Flying-V from the Mighty Ducks impossible.
Another infraction is icing. Icing is shooting the puck from behind the blue line of your defensive zone past the red line in your offensive zone and a defensive player is the first to touch the puck. This is an optional infraction and the defensive team can wave it off. Icing results in a face off in one of the red circles in the original teams offensive zone.
Penalties are more serious infractions which result in a player having to sit out of the game for a period of time. Minor penalties, which are more common, like: slashing, hitting a player with your stick as a weapon; tripping, tripping an opposing player with your stick; pass interference, hitting a player without the puck on the opposing team while their team has the puck; cross-checking, checking the opponent with your stick; and hooking, pulling an opposing player back with your stick and impeding their movement, all result in a two-minute power-play where the player who caused the penalty is sent to the penalty box. A power-play is an advantage in the number of players on the ice for the duration of a penalty. If one player is sent to the box it is a 5 on 4 advantage, if two are sent it is a 5 on 3, and so on. It is possible for both teams to have simultaneous penalties. This results on 4 on 4 play, 3 on 3, 4 on 3, etc.
But what about the fighting?
The NHL is full of egos. Very large egos. It is also filled with men who are so dedicated to their team they are like brothers. This should be expected since they are performing at the highest level of the game in the known universe for almost 9 months a year and are all dedicated to winning. So when a big guy on another team picks on your little forward and throws an extra elbow. You better bet that Lucic, a Boston Bruin, is going to step in and say something. English is his second language as an attempt to break the language barrier (and other things) he speaks with his fists. Of course, this triggers other forms of painful communication from both sides. That is how it ends up being an entire team vs. another entire team.
“I will personally challenge anyone who wants to get rid of fighting to a fight.”
A fight in Hockey is a statement. A fight in Hockey says, “No, you can’t do that. You went too far,” it says it clearly and it says it loudly. Not to mention a fight can change the tide of the game, energize a crowd and a home team. It also isn’t an all out brawl. Fights end once one man is on the ground.
While, fighting is an integral part of the game it is still a penalty. In fact it is a major penalty. Those responsible for the fight are sent to the penalty box for five minutes. Any penalty that draws blood is a major penalty and has the same result. For serious infractions (eg using your stick as a weapon to the head or hitting a man once he has fallen to the ice) the referee can eject a player from the game at their discretion.
Terms to make you sound like you’ve been a fan for years
Crease: The blue area around the goalie.
Five Hole: The space between the goalies legs. Typically used as “The puck went right through the five hole.”
Gordie Howe Hat trick: A goal, an assist, and a fight in one game.
Hat trick: Three goals in one game.
One timer: Immediately shooting off the pass.
Top Shelf: The space above the goalies shoulders in the net.
Slap Shot: A shot on net which the shooter winds up for.
Wrap Around: Skating behind the net to attempt a goal.
That’s the basics...
Without going into strategy those are the basic rules of hockey. I did not list all the penalties and I simplified it as much as possible. I wanted you to get the basic idea of how the game is played and why calls are made so everyone can enjoy the game as much as I do. Much like football the announcers and the referee will explain calls throughout the game which will help.
While the Ice Rays are done for the season I recommend going to a game next year. I went alone and still had a blast. There is a culture to hockey which is unique, friendly, exciting and irreplaceable. It is a 60 minute sprint with big hits and exciting goals. The athleticism is impressive and the coordination baffling. It is a game filled with odd traditions and years of rivalry and history. Hockey is simply magical.
Please let me know if you would like to more about hockey. Or reply to this post with any questions you have.