10 Dec 7 things you learn watching your first ice hockey match
Living in Streatham for 4 years, I was well overdue to go and watch an ice hockey match. What better way to spend a Sunday evening than walking down to Streatham Ice & Leisure to watch the Streatham Redhawks face off against the best ice hockey teams in the South of England? Especially now that Strictly is coming to an end…
Having never seen an ice hockey match before (except for on TV at the Winter Olympics), I didn’t know what to expect. Certainly what I wasn’t expecting was how much I loved it! There were highs, there were lows. There was music, there were drums, there was a Zamboni, there was merchandise. The game was an event with over 100 people in attendance. Never been to an ice hockey match before? Here’s all the things you’ll learn the first time you go…
It’s a family-friendly event
When I arrived, there was a real buzz to the atmosphere. The security and staff are lovely; and you go through to the ice rink where people are getting hot dogs and pints of beer and eagerly getting to their favourite seats alongside the rink. There was a mixture of old and young; home and away fans. Sure, ice hockey has a reputation for being an aggressive sport (and there is certainly plenty of that) but it’s a sport I’m confident the whole family will enjoy.
Ice hockey is serious stuff
Streatham Redhawks aren’t amateurs. Sure, they don’t get paid enough to make a full-time living from ice hockey, but this league is pretty serious. The home supporters wear their jerseys with pride and hang their flags on the railings, the national anthem is played before the game and the rink provides fantastic facilities. The guys were all unbelievably good skaters too – it’s worth a watch for the skating skills alone!
The rules are: there are no rules
Ok, not quite – but it certainly seems that way! To someone who literally knows none of the rules of ice hockey; it looks like chaos. There were plenty of players shoulder-barging each other into the walls and the substitution system is crazy – players are constantly coming and going from the ice, it’s a wonder anyone knows what’s going on. One guy from the opposition even dropped his ice hockey stick and everyone just left it there! He didn’t retrieve it until a good few minutes later, and meanwhile was just trying to get his body in the way of the other players. Madness. But also, great fun to watch. Let’s just say, you’ll be glad that theres a perspex wall and loads of netting between you and the flying puck (it even hit the ceiling a few times).
You have to be a special kind of brave to be a goalie
The goalies were the ones who impressed me the most during my first encounter with ice hockey. Sure, the other players skating up and down the ice at high speed were exhilarating to watch and impressive to say the least, but the goalies were something else entirely. Not only do they have to cope with an entire team of people sprinting aggressively towards them; they also have to get their body/hands/face in the way of an incredibly fast puck. Their reaction times were incredible and there were some saves that you couldn’t even see because they were that fast.
The DJ has an eclectic music taste
Like any good event, there was music to introduce the teams and fill the gaps between thirds and timeouts. One thing that struck me was the vast range of music genres the DJ dipped into! We went from head banging to Metallica, to shaking our shoulders to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, to rapping along to Snoop Dogg. It seemed like nothing was off limits. Like I said – fun for all the family to enjoy.
There’s a ‘half time’ competition
It’s not really half time, because there are 3 thirds (why is that?!). But after the second third, they invited members of the crowd to walk out on the ice and shoot a puck for the chance to win a cash prize. Sound easy? Well, it isn’t. First off, you’re very far away and secondly, you have to try and slot the puck through one of 3 very small gaps in a cardboard cutout to claim your prize. That being said, we were lucky enough to see someone score the £170 winnings with her one and only shot!
You’ll wonder why you didn’t go sooner
All in all, my first ice hockey match was a massively positive experience and I’ll definitely be back again soon! You don’t have to know what’s going on to enjoy it – just soak up the great atmosphere and prepare to be impressed!
Tickets are £12 for adults (over 16) and £7 for kids, students and seniors. A family ticket admitting 2 adults and 2 children costs £30. You can buy them directly from the Streatham Hockey website.