HOCKEY WILL TEAR US APART
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Pardon My Ignorance - IceDogs @ Majors, game 2
1. This is my first OHL playoff game. At this point, I'm settling for bad hockey to complain about (it wasn't) over no hockey at all.

2. I know practically nothing, in detail, about the IceDogs and Majors. Bear with me. I'm learning.

I arrive late and settle, unprecendently, for a standing room ticket. The crowded, cozy, and cramped arena is packed with auspicious people in red and black jerseys, armed with plastic horns and a petulant frown at the size of the arena.

O'Sullivan is the word. Everyone around the glass whispers it, anxiously staring out at the ice, waiting for the pre-skate. As I do the same, an avuncular gentleman smiles at me. "Is this your first hockey game?" he asks.

Excuse me.

Just because I'm an teenage female, alone at the rink, with minimal makeup and a St Michael's Hockey School jersey (that he probably thinks is from an ex-boyfriend or something), this must be my first game hockey ever?

Pft!

Then again, I'm sure he doesn't mean to sound demeaning.

Once the game starts, I fully realize the so-called rivalry between the IceDogs and the Majors.

Although I have no real attachment to Majors -- a mild fondness, let's say -- I'm annoyed when two fans in my section that howl Lehman's name everytime he touches the puck. Although I was pretty much ignorant on the background, it turns out to be how a regular hate-on gets started -- he had "words" with an IceDog (ahem) and a bad penalty was given so and so happened. Go learn a new chant.

By the warm-ups, you can sort of tell who's more likely to dive. On a pre-game drill, Justin Donati ignores the position of all the other shooters, borrows a puck, and slides a puck in when Peters is out of his net, cutting down the angle of another shooter, leaving Donati's shot wide open ... egotistic much?

The rhythm starts off slow, Missisauga scoring a goal but Toronto coming right back to tie. A kid beside me drops his hot-dog during the beginning intermission but mysteriously waits until the start of the second period to ask for another one.

The Majors take a brief lead in the second period, but the first of many undiscplined penalties takes its toll, and by the end of the period, the IceDogs have 3-2 lead.

In the third period, the Majors unravel. One useless penalty after another, one IceDogs player down on the ice after another ...(Even after the lead, two Mississauga players manage to go down by some mysterious force -- both clutching their faces in pain, lying flat out on the ice and doing the typical ow-this-hurts-so-much-I'm-banging-my-skate-against-the-ice routine -- Carcillo mimics the mortally wounded. "Ever heard of blood?!", someone yells.) The crowd gets restless against O'Sullivan. ("Hey! O'Sullivan, you pussy, stop yapping and start playing!")

During one face-off near the particular fan, Patrick O'Sullivan stares up into the crowd, into the direction of the fan and glares. I can't tell if he's mildly amused or visualising snapping his stick against the fan's back ...

Coincidentally, close to the end of the game, on a break-away and an empty net, O'Sullivan hits the post and the entire arena shrieks.

The three-star selections are announced just as I'm plastered against the wall of the "standing room" and waiting for the steady stream of people to go. A pack of Mississauga fans have grins plastered on their faces, spewing vituperation and yelping like dogs when the first star gets announced. Even in the 6-2 loss, a Majors player is announced as the second star, and just to spite them, I yell out something ... encouraging.

After the game, I meet up with a friend outside the arena. Two players are still hanging around in the parking lot, one giving directions to two helplessly lost teenage girls ... for 10 minutes. My friend convinces me that I absolutely have to have their autographs (okay, this is one interpetation...) before they drive away. I shake her off, handing her a pen and my ticket stub.

"My friend over here wants your autograph...." she coos to the player in the driver's seat. (I'm mortified. You'll see.)

His friend climbs into the passenger's seat. "Can I sign, too? Or am I not hot enough?" He almost sounds pitiful.

After they drive off, I still have no idea who they are.

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