December 3, 2008

Love of the game

Joe Yerdon, my buddy who writes a blog for Fox Sports 980, has a nice blog entry about why he loves the game.

To me, hockey is a way of life. I've played the game since I was about 5 years old. I was living in Utah at the time, and to be perfectly honest, I don't remember my first time on the ice, but I know it was with my dad at the Bountiful Ice Garden, one of two ice arenas in that state at the time. We went again and again, and every time I was loving it. I never had a skating coach back then; my skating coach was my dad. I never had one of those little metal things to lean on; I had to lean on the boards or not lean at all.

I grew up cheering for the North Stars. When they relocated in 1993 thanks to Norm Greed, I quickly took up love for one player in the NHL: Pavel Bure. I had followed him since his rookie season, amazed by his speed and skill. I was never a Vancouver Canucks fan, or a Panthers fan, or even a Rangers fan, but always a fan of Bure.

My true love of hockey though will always come back to the Fighting Sioux. Growing up in the Twin Cities, everyone around me loved the Gophers. Not me. I went to one Gopher game against Maine in 1997, when they had a player named Ek on their roster. I cheered for Maine. They lost that game 7-3. My dad, a Gopher alum, was convinced he could get me to be a Gopher fan. Not going to happen. Even playing two games in a spring league at the Mooch couldn't convince me.

I started following the Sioux in 1998. The previous summer, I worked with some Gopher players and Sioux players in various clinics and weightlifting sessions. Brad Defauw was almost a mentor to me that summer.

I have watched the Sioux win a National Championship and come up short in two of them. I have seen them lose in the playoffs and have that be their seasons end. I have watched them lose heartbreaking games and seen them break hearts. Every single year I could provide you with a memory of a specific game.

My point here is, Joe caused me to think this morning. Why do we watch hockey? What is it about the game that we love so much? Is it the hope that our team will be the best? Or is it that we admire the hell out of the athletes out there on the ice. There's a lot of reasons why people love the game so much, and I know for me, I have multiple reasons. Think about yours.


USAFA Bulldog said...

Good blog Brandon. You're on my reading list. Of course you not liking the Gophers helps of course. Still, keep up the good work from one college hockey blogger to another.

Goon said...

I cried the day the Stars left Minnesota. I can remember watching the first game of the Wild era as well.

Then the moved my Jets to the desert.

BrettB in STL said...

My 1st skate was when I was 4 years old, my dad lied about my age, because you had to be 5 in order to play termite hockey in Grand Forks, and since my brother is a yr older it just made sense to him to get us both on the ice at the same time. (We laugh about it now) But I'll never forget he tied my skates extremely tight (only dad could tie my skates for the 1st few years of my hockey career, not mom, she never seemed to tie them right) then we walked out onto Purpur arena, and they had the "walkers" (metal things to help you stay standing on the ice) I clutched onto the walker, and then my dad told me to let go of the walker as he handed me my stick, and said, "Now just push that walker" and so I pused it out to the center ice where the "coach"(babysitter for the hour) would drop the puck, and everyone would do battle, finally the puck would get buried in the heap of metal in the corner boards, he'd blow his whistle, and bring the puck back to center ice. (Which the ice was actually cut into 2 by little wooden boards that stood about 2.5ft off the ice) I don't quite remember how long it took me to get rid of the walker(half hour on the ice or maybe a few times on the ice I don't recollect) I do remember when I did get rid of the walker. I remember I was all the way across the ice from where my dad was standing, and so I just took off towards him without the walker. Then when I came crashing to the boards. (It was a great way to stop in my book at the time) The cool part about my early intro was that I was able to skate with my brother and his friends.