While most people consider hockey to be a manly man’s sport – let’s face it, it’s big amongst the ladies. More and more women are going to the games and getting involved. Northeastern’s & UNH’s women’s hockey teams will be participating in the College Winter Classic at Fenway Park this January. Young girls are joining teams and giving the boys a run for their money on the ice and even Sarah Palin hopped on the hockey bandwagon and pandered to the hockey mom’s out there during John McCain’s ill fated 2008 Presidential campaign.
So why do women like hockey? I decided to ask some female hockey bloggers and female fans why they love the sport and their answers might surprise you or at least make you laugh. Today we will be featuring Jaci from WickedBruinsFan.com, Sarah Spain from Mouth Piece Sports and EP & Amanda, two Montreal Canadien Super Fans. Next week we will have answers from a Ashley, a rabid Canadian hockey fan, Sarah, who represents the West Coat, Caite from Loochness Montster, Curl from Wrap Around Curl and moi. If you want to submit your list, shoot me a note! Thanks to Puck Daddy for inspiration!
1. There’s the old line about legendary actress and dancer, Ginger Rogers: “She did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards, in high heels.” Hockey players do everything other pro athletes do, but on skates. The agility, power, gracefulness, speed, endurance and coordination required of these incredible athletes makes the sport, moreso than almost any, one that fans watch with a true sense of awe.
2. Big hits. No dives or stretchers like in soccer, no recovery breaks between plays like in football, no flagrant fouls like in basketball. Just big hits that knock 200-pounders on their asses but don’t keep them off their skates for more than the few seconds it takes them to get back up.
3. Guys like Kris Versteeg, Adam Burish, Jeremy Roenick and Cam Barker. They’re honest, funny, outgoing, introspective and don’t have “baller” attitudes. My favorite interviews have been with hockey players.
4. Last season when the Hawks put together a nine-game win streak in December we all forgot for a moment that we weren’t even halfway through Winter. The thought of months of snow, wind, sleet, hail and below zero temperatures just wouldn’t be tolerable if we didn’t know that the coming of fall and winter also signal the beginning of hockey.
5. As a whole, the fans are the most knowledgeable, respectful, dedicated and passionate of any sport I know. It is impossible NOT to get the chills at the United Center during the Hawks’ anthem.
1. Every game is different
In hockey, there is something different in every game. Some games have
fights. Some games are a goaltending duel. Some games are blowouts.
There might be hat tricks in one game and a shutout in another. Two
games are never the same.*
* The exception is the 2006-2007 season when Dave Lewis coached the
Boston Bruins and every game felt like it was the same.
2. The Montreal Canadiens
That might be odd coming from a Bruins fan, but it’s true. The
Canadiens are to the Bruins what the Yankees are to the Red Sox. The
history and rivalry make the Canadiens vs. Bruins match-ups exciting.
The Bruins were not on the winning side too often against the
Canadiens in the past, and that made the first round sweep of the
division rivals that much sweeter in 2009.
I have been going to pre-game warm-ups since 1997. Sometimes it is my
favorite part of the game. It allows fans to see personalities of
players come out. Last season, Milan Lucic and P.J. Axelsson would
check each other into the boards. Other players sing along with the
music while skating around. It gives fans a chance to see the players
up close and take pictures for no extra cost. It has become part of my
game-day routine. If I miss warm-ups, it throws off the rest of the
4. Training Camp
September is my favorite month for hockey. You might be thinking, “But
hockey doesn’t start in September!” For me it does because training
camp opens. You get to see the majority of players in the organization
as many times as you can (for free!) before some go to the minors and
juniors. Practices are early, but this night owl makes the extra
effort to get there. Aside from evaluating players, I get reacquainted
with friends I have met over the years.
5. It’s in my blood
I joke that I became a hockey fan because it’s in my blood. My mother
and her brothers were fans back in the day. My mother was at the game
when the Bobby Orr scored the goal to clinch the Stanley Cup victory
in 1970. People ask if that’s how I got into hockey, but it wasn’t.
When I had my picture taken with Bobby Orr when I was four years old
and my cousin was the biggest Cam Neely fan around, I was oblivious to
the sport. My first Bruins game wasn’t until a pre-season game in
1996. That did it for me. The hockey DNA finally woke up.
Amanda Fortier, Die hard Habs fan(Don’t hold that against her.)
1. My Dad:Or more specifically, the time I’ve spent with my dad watching hockey or talking about hockey. My dad and I don’t have much in common – he loves all things tech, computer and dorky, including World of Warcraft, which makes my eyes bleed. I am a girl, I play a sport he’s never seen played (Ultimate Frisbee) and I am a geneticist, so our interests don’t overlap very much. Hockey is the one thing that always brings us together. It was my dad who first introduced me to hockey, at a very young age. One of my fondest memories is going to see a Canadiens open practice with my dad when I was about 6 years old. It was my first time riding the metro, my first time in the fabled Forum and Patrick Roy skated by us and said hello. Now that I’m an adult and live on the other side of the country from him, my dad and I have even less in common. But we still come together over our love of the Habs, World Juniors and all things hockey.
2. The IIHF World Junior Championships: There is nothing more thrilling than watching those kids play hockey on the world stage, and then seeing them grow up into men who wear NHL jerseys. I feel a sense of pride when Team Canada members (who coincidentally are often gold medallists at the WJCs) move on to become NHL players, whether they are stars like Sid or just quietly working their way through the ranks. After last year’s tournament, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing what happens with John Tavares, and I really hope that the Islanders organization allows him the time and the space to grow before he plays in the NHL.
3. The history:As a Canadiens fan, it’s very cool to support a team that has such a long, storied franchise history. I’ll admit, I don’t know as much as I would like to, but on the other hand, knowing that there is still so much to learn is also a great feeling. I loved the movie The Rocket, because it was such an interesting glimpse into what it was like to be a hockey player and a hockey fan in that era. (It was also really awesome that Vincent Lecavalier got to play his hero, Jean Béliveau, in the movie).
4. The fans:I don’t know of many sports where the fans are as passionate about their team, while still being awesome people that you can be friends with outside the arena. I have met some of the best people through hockey, even if they do happen to be Bruins fans…. or fans of any other team that isn’t the Canadiens, for that matter.
5. The players:I’m a girl and I have no shame in admitting that part of the draw to hockey is the players themselves. But it’s not about who looks good off the ice. There’s something incredible about watching a hockey player outskate an opponent, or muscle another player off the puck, or throw a bone crunching body check. With their helmets and masks on.
Tagged: Adam Burish, Amanda Fortier, Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Cam Barker, Cam Neely, EP31, Hockey, IIHF World Junior Championships, Jean Béliveau, Jeremy Roenick, John Tavares, Kris Versteeg, Loochness Monster, Milan Lucic, Montreal Canadiens, Mouth Piece Sports, P.J. Axelsson, Patrick Roy, Puck Daddy, Sarah Palin, Sarah Spain, Team Canada, Vincent Lecavalier, Wicked Bruins Fan, Wrap Around Curl