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Cataract Resin 61

A couple of years ago I laughed at Chad for liking Ice Hockey. He said it was better than BASE Jumping and I laughed at him and called him "wrong" and "dumb". I am now forced to take back everything I said. Hockey is the best sport in the fucking universe.

On sunday I went to see my local team, The Coventry Blaze, square off against Northern Ireland's Belfast Giants. My friend had been to see the previous week's game and had informed me that it was the most incredible thing he'd ever seen. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, and went along to the game at the Skydome Arena (sounds all futuristic doesn't it?).

There's two pricing options - you can get seats, or you can get standing. And of course, I got standing. Why would I want to stand up throughout the whole thing? The answer is obvious. If you're standing up, you're right next to the glass. If you're right next to the glass, you're right next to the ice. And if you're right next to the ice, you have an awesome view of the players getting BODYCHECKED into the sides of the arena. You also have numerous brown-trouser moments as the puck comes hurtling towards your head at speeds in excess of a million miles per hour (alright. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration . . . but it moves FAST). So in summary - real men choose standing.

So the players face off in the middle and the match starts. And before the first minute is up, the Blaze have scored and a fight has broken out. I'm liking this already. Every time play is stopped for whatever reason, some music is played, and spandex-clad dancers all around the rink start body popping. And this was another fantastic feature - the music seemed specifically geared to wind up the visiting team. Of course, when the Blaze scored, it was some crazy fast tune which you couldn't make out because everyone was screaming so loud. When the visitors scored, the chorus of Transvision Vamp's "I don't care" hit (although it was probably that Brookside slapper, Jennifer Ellison's version). When their players got sin-binned, we had The Streets' "Dry Your Eyes Mate". When our players got sin-binned, we had madness' "Baggy Trousers" (for those of you who haven't heard it, it's a sneaky ska number, implying that our players are just cheeky monkeys having a laugh).

Playing an away ice hockey game must be the most demoralising thing in the world. And it was showing in their play. The Giants were being VERY aggressive, even compared to the Blaze (led by Canadian hooligan Andre Peyette). Ultimately I think it was this misplaced aggression which cost them the match. There's no doubt that every player on the ice had a vast amount of skill. Controlling yourself on the ice is difficult enough. Controlling yourself with a ton of body armour on must be even harder. So controlling not just yourself in a ton of body armour, but the puck as well, while being hassled by three or four six-foot giants in body armour must be one hell of a challenge. Lose your cool and you lose your skills. It's the same in everything you ever do.

Another thing I seemed to notice was that the crowd themselves were very friendly. There was no beating up of away fans as you would find at a football (soccer) game. There was no drunken brawling. It was all a nice family environment. I would imagine that the amount of violence out on the ice removed all violent thoughts from the crowd. With this in mind, I propose that football (soccer) matches are now fenced off with glass walls which the players can slam each other into if needs be. Shit, that might even make that shit sport worth watching.

To sum up then: Chad, you were right, I was wrong.
Everyone else: Go see a hockey game as soon as possible.