My company holds recognition events after 5 years of service (well, after 6- you get invited to the event the year after your 5 years). As part of the event we were given an outing- there was a choice between a Mississippi River Dinner Cruise for two or tickets to a hockey game for 4. I chose the hockey game. We got tickets plus a food ticket (hot dog, popcorn, drink) and a drink ticket.
I am SO glad I did. We went to the Roughrider's game on Saturday and had just a fabulous time. The game was exciting, the crowd was wild, we had dinner (hot dog was good, popcorn was like eating salt with a spoon). The whole evening was great. Especially the part where they interviewed season ticket holder's and the woman said her favorite part of the Roughrider experience was hearing the national anthem. That's the best thing about the game? Um, okay...totally worth buying tickets for!
The only sad part is the friends I had invited were unable to come- she came down with the flu :( So we gave their food tickets away, and just collected their drinks- after the game we came home with 4 bottles of soda :)
So once again, driving to the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, we got lost. In fairness this time it was because a train distracted us, so we missed the turn right after the train tracks, but Kevin and I have a terrible track record with this place. We get lost EVERY time we go there or next door to the Kernel's baseball stadium. I have been up there so many times for skating, and on my own not gotten lost maybe 2 or 3. It is ridiculous. Usually we miss the highway exit, so this was a new mistake. We thought we were going to be late, but we got there as the national anthem started.
It took us awhile to find our seats. The sections are marked on the wall, but the first section marking we saw was on like a press box or something, so we were looking at them at that level. Once we noticed the wall markings, it was easy to find our seats and we had pretty good ones. Third row (I wouldn't want to be any closer) and just slightly off centered.
The game itself was fabulous. Very fast paced. From what I can tell, there are very few rules to hockey, so it was easy to follow. The only rule I picked up was off sides which had something to do with the position of the players to the puck as they go over the blue line. Kevin mentioned something to me about 'icing', but I don't think it happened, because I never noticed anything in play about it. I think the defenders are also only allowed to go a certain distance down the ice. But overall it wasn't like baseball or football where there are a thousand rules so the game is confusing. This game is simple- get the puck into the goal.
The thing that I enjoyed the most about the game was watching the skating. These guys skate hard and fast. The puck handling also looks incredibly difficult- like trying to dribble a really slippery soccer ball! There really wasn't a dull moment. It was a high scoring game, and ended up going into OT and then to penalty shots. Unfortunately the Roughrider's lost.
The only negative was the fighting. While we were at the game we noticed how young the guys look, and when I came home we found out it was a junior league (amateur, not paid). So the players are from 16-20 years old, and in some cases could be as young as 15! I don't want to see teenagers fighting. It certainly riles up the crowd, and I'm apparently the only one there with that opinion, but while I personally still wouldn't like it at an NHL game, at least those are adults making a lot of money. For the most part, it seemed the fights were harmless, quick little tussles were punches were thrown mostly into padded shoulders, but at one point a guy left the game with blood pouring from his face (I later read he had a tooth cracked). Not only is that sickening, thinking this is a kid getting pummeled for adult entertainment, but it also took forever to clean up the blood from the ice- maybe that is why most of the fights are minor, they are probably discouraged from delay of game! From what I have read online fighting isn't that common, but in the game last night there were probably at least 5 fights, and two that involved almost every single player. (At one point there were two guys, one from each team, standing center ice talking to each other, while all the other players fought in pairs...) The linesman stand by and watch. I'm not sure what the criteria is for starting to break them up, but it appears to not happen until someone falls to the ice.
So, now I'll be honest about the other thing that was entertaining. This will be in stark contrast to not liking to see fights. While I admired their skating, I also cracked up every time someone tripped in the hockey version of 'toepick'. It happened about ten times. Skating along, no one around, and then just bam- face plant. Because the skating was so amazing, I think it amused me because I SUCK at skating in hockey skates and fall over the front of them all the time. To see that it happens to guys who are super competent in hockey skates was pretty amusing.
I'll definitely be going back to a Roughriders game. Maybe a graduation celebration? Anniversary? Birthday? Tickets weren't super cheap if you have to buy them ($18), but not too bad for an exciting night out.