Fool For The Game

Ever drive 80 miles an hour on dangerously icy roads because you were worried that you’d miss the first drop of the puck in the Great Lakes Invitational?

Ever risk losing your job to attend an NCAA Regional?

How about attending the Beanpot on the same day as your wife’s grandmother’s funeral?

Did you propose to your wife at a hockey game?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, you know you’re a fool for college hockey, as many people confessed this season on the USCHO Message Board.

The thread was started by Jennifer McClellan, the Buckeye-slash-Spartan fan who risked her life to get to the GLI.

Jennifer also confessed that she’s in Anaheim “even though [my] brother’s wife is due to have [my] first niece/nephew the day between the semifinals and the finals,” and that she’s “blowing off her boyfriend who will be defending his Ph.D.”

Consider that Jennifer’s mom is also in Anaheim, proving that hockey is a bigger draw than the birth of one’s first grandchild.

After Jennifer posted on Feb. 25, scores of hockey fans wrote in likewise to confess the foolish, silly, and sometimes life-threatening things they’ve done to see college hockey. Not surprisingly, when fans risk their lives for the game, they do so on the road.

When nine inches of snow fell the night before Michigan was scheduled to play the inaugural game at Ohio State’s new Schottenstein Center on Jan. 2 — a snowfall at which other hockey cities would laugh, but one which crippled Columbus — Donna, a Buckeye fan, said there was no question about whether or not to attend the game.

“The news media is telling everyone to stay off the roads because of the weather, but there is NO WAY you will miss the opening of the new arena! Or playing your archrival!”

Ron in Vermont said that you know you’re a hockey junkie when “in attempting to rush home from a game at Williams so you can get SOME sleep before having to work in the morning you get caught doing 84 in a 50 — which is grounds for arrest in the state of Vermont.”

Bob Bergman wrote that he knew he was a die-hard when he drove 900 miles from Huntsville, Ala., to central Wisconsin in time for an all-day blizzard at his sister’s log cabin.

“Then you skid your way out to the plowed state highway in order to drive the other 300 miles to Bemidji in time for the ’97 Division II championships. Immediately after the final game you drive 26 hours straight through to get your son back to college in time for Monday classes.”

The kicker? “In a Mercury Tracer,” he said.

In addition to driving great distances at unsafe speeds just to see the puck drop, it seems that lots of people schedule important life experiences — weddings, anniversaries, even childbirth — around hockey.

Kevin, a Buckeye fan in Columbus, was the guy who proposed to his wife at a hockey game. (And if you’ve seen the little OSU rink, you know she had to love him to accept.)

Becki in Boston — the one who’d risk losing her job to attend the regionals — said that she yelled at her brother for scheduling his wedding on the day of the first game of the season. So, she says, she volunteered “to drop off [guests] at the airport so [I’d] have a reason not to be at the post-wedding festivities.” After performing her sisterly duties, she said she “walked into the game with [my] hair done, full-fledged makeup, pearls, and jeans.”

Mike Jochmann in Madison gave hockey sweaters with names and numbers as gifts for the attendants in his wedding, and like many folks, Steve in Boston celebrated his wedding anniversary at a hockey game because his team had “a home game that evening.”

A fan calling himself “Beansprout” said that you know you’re a hockey junkie when “you schedule your 20th wedding anniversary group trip to Paris so you can get back in time for the…SCSU vs. Minnesota games. And, both your wife and the travel agent go along with it because they want to [attend the games] also!”

Not all hockey fans have cause to celebrate while attending games.. J.J. in Columbus said that you knew you’ve got it bad when “you ask your wife for a divorce during the first intermission,” and then during the second intermission “you ask your soon-to-be ex-wife for the season tickets as part of the settlement.”

Similarly, David in Colorado Springs said, “You give the wife everything she wants except the hockey tickets in the divorce proceedings.”

No word on whether these two accounts are from personal experience.

Sarah, also in Colorado Springs, said that you know you’re a hockey junkie if “you dump your boyfriend because after almost a while season’s worth of games, he still can’t seem to get the ‘sieve’ cheer right.”

Rough town.

But one poster, Sean, reminds us that hockey can be a great aphrodisiac. Sean says that he saw his future wife for the first time at a game, and fell in love when “even though it [was] the middle of the third period and Minnesota [led] Tech by eight goals, she stands up and yells in a quiet arena, ‘It was offsides! I saw it, it was offsides!”

First comes love, then comes marriage…and new generations of fans, indoctrinated at very early ages into the cult of college hockey.

Not surprisingly, Steve in Boston — who spent his anniversary at the hockey game — has kids who are very hockey-savvy. He says you know you’re a true fan when “your eight-year-old son can name every player on the home team and knows the stars for all of their opponents,” and when “your nine-year-old daughter knows more about the game than all of the adults sitting round you combined.”

Donna in Columbus also has kids who know a lot about hockey — more than she’d like. “[My] five-year-old daughter can tell you what faceoff, power play, penalty kill and offsides mean.” She adds that her children “know all the hockey cheers — even the ones you’d rather they didn’t know.”

Brian, another Buckeye fan, said that if you were a true fan, you’d “schedule the birth of your son over the break before the Christmas tournaments.” Well, he said he and his wife didn’t plan to have their baby then, “but it sure did work out that way.”

And the child in question “went to his first game before he was two weeks old and [had] been to 10 games before he [was] two months old.” We somehow doubt Brian’s assertion that his wunderkind “knows more about the game than the people who sit” behind him, but remember where he watches his games.

“Duckboy” from Michigan wrote that you know you’re a fan when “you make your almost two-year-old son watch at least one hour of hockey a day.”

Aren’t there laws about this sort of thing?

So, we’d die to get to the rink, we’d skip or reschedule important family occasions for love of the game, we fall in and out of love accompanied by the drone of the Zamboni, and we dutifully teach our children which goaltender is the sieve.

And, as Todd in Brighton, Mass., reminds us, “a perfect season” is the one where you see “all of your team’s home, away, pre-season, and post-season games.”


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