American Ice Hockey

Would Jess Like American Ice Hockey.




Welcome to a slightly belated edition of Would Jess Like It, where I analyse a very interesting activity I participated in during my time in the United States of America.


It all began when my friend Miles told me to keep Saturday night free, because something was happening. This wasn’t difficult because I only had three friends in New York at that stage and Miles was easily the most dominant of all of them. (And still is).


So, after a day exploring the bagels of Park Slope, I followed Miles to the intentional living house where his wife Roz and her friend Katie were hanging out. This small glimpse into intentional living taught me that it involves many root vegetables and nice notes about things that are meaningful on the fridge. I liked it.


We then walked to a Zip Car pickup point where I learnt how car-sharing works in New York. You go in, and the dude working in a garage gets the car for you, and then it’s all yours for however many hours you book it. Pretty cool! Roz’s other friend Heather joined us, and it was GO GO GO. To Long Island!


It had snowed fairly recently and the roads were a bit unpleasant, but Roz got us there without any problems. “There” being a giant “coliseum” out in some part of Long Island. I knew Long Island only from The Great Gatsby, so I expected mainly billowing warm breezes, white linen, and rich jerks. Instead, it was a car park packed with excited people in jerseys who gave me much more of a Myrtle Wilson than Daisy Buchanan vibe.


So we get into the stadium and we’re bang on starting time. Except: there’s no freaking way I’m entering the stadium until I have purchased American Sport Food. Miles was all “don’t miss the American anthem, Jess” and I was all “DON’T MISS THE CHEESE SAUCE THAT COMES IN A VAT, MILES”.


I ended up with a $9 six-inch subway sandwich and a $5 bottle of water, and scurried upstairs for the match to take place.


The full name of the place was the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and you know what that meant? This place had an agenda beyond just subway sandwiches and ice hockey: they were there to HONOUR THE TROOPS.


This meant that every now and then, the roving crowd camera would seek out an Army veteran in the crowd, show them on screen, and we would all have to stand up and honour them. The crowd took this in their stride: they were all very used to the process. Beer drinking and yelling would quickly abort, they would struggle to their feet, and the honouring would begin.


(The camera would also seek out other less venerated members of the crowd, such as kids having their birthdays, couples having anniversaries, and the cleavages of the Ice Babes whose job it was to shovel away ice between quarters wearing a tiny tiny outfit and grinning like it was the most fun they had ever had in their lives. This was the only part of ice hockey that made me feel moral discomfort).


But anyway: the game. Ice hockey is quite a frenetic, exciting game. There is heaps of sliding and smacking and whacking, but all in a fairly respectful matter. Everyone in our party was angling so damn hard for a fight to break out, but no dice. Sad face.


Instead, Miles tried to start a disturbance in our own neck of the woods, all proud home-team supporters, by appropriating the New York Islanders chant into one for the rival team, the Hurricanes, and bellowing it out every single chance he got. I guess Miles’ linguistic acuity allowed him to make the judgement call about how well the 3 syllables of the rival team names could work in the same chant. It worked DAMN well.


Imagine a full bleacher of Islander fans being serenaded by Miles’s booming voice bellowing “HU-RIC-ANES! HU-RIC-ANES!” Kids were staring, faces crumbled in confusion. Teenagers were mortified on his behalf. Parents didn’t know what to do. I had to pretend I was there chaperoning the 16 year olds wearing promise rings next to me, and no friend of this buffoon. No offence Miles.


Miles’s behaviour raised a few eyebrows, but no one took the bait and punched him in the face. I think this is a symbol of the way New York has changed into a safer and less violent place in the last few years, because, I know you should never say this, but Miles was SERIOUSLY ASKING FOR IT. If he hadn’t given me a free ticket, I probably would have punched him myself.


Anyway, I guess in any sport game there’s a winner and a loser (unlike Would Jess Like It where the only contest is “how much fun are you having” (“a little”)), so I just had to google who the winners were, and it turns out it was the visiting team. Therefore, a whole bunch of dejected Islanders hot-footed it out of the stadium like it was on fire, returned to their cars and steamed off home, and that was the end of ice hockey.


I had a great night. I tried a new type of processed cheese, I got to meet Roz’s friends, it was a nice chance to remember I shouldn’t miss Miles THAT much now that he lives in America, and I thought the entertaining brackets between quarters were just delightful, barring the need for gender equality in skimpily-clad ice-babes.


Ice Hockey gets a thumbs up from Would Jess Like It. Would go again.