Monday, January 14, 2013
EYE OF THE TYLER
Hockey, where have you been all my life? This past Saturday night, I went to my first hockey game and watched the South Carolina Stingrays beat Trenton 6-5 in a shootout-ending overtime. There was a fight about halfway through the game, several players from both teams sported fantastic mustaches and while it wasnít a sellout, those in attendance made plenty of noise. Yes, please. My guess for my prolonged tardiness can probably be blamed on my own awful skating abilities. In elementary school, I tried to learn how to skate. When I skate, itís not graceful; itís unintentional robot dancing. So, I wanted to learn how to skate well. I wanted to be able to turn and steer myself clear of walls and other skaters. My routes around a rink are of rectangular form. That should explain things. Plus, the guys who could skate without sending folks to the hospital were sure bets to get plenty of girls by way of the couple-skate. So, for a young boy, I had all the motivation I needed to become a master in the rink. It didnít work out, though. I got a pair of roller blades, but our houseís driveway has plenty of cracks and bumps, so I could only skate six feet before falling to my death. I gave up on the scraped knees and elbows for a few months, and when I decided to give it another shot, the shoes with tiny wheels that hate me didnít fit anymore. So, that was the extent of skating for me. I realize hockey and rollerblading are different, so hockey enthusiasts, deleted the email youíre mentally constructing to send me. But, they are similar. And when those tiny wheels and the crevice-infested concrete teamed up to go all Fight Club on me in my own driveway, I discarded hockey too. My apologies. Saturday night, I sat next to a young boy no older than 5 who had a ďStingrays Lilí FanĒ hat. He scanned the crowd for cowbells, asked which goal the Stingrays were trying to score and shoveled handfuls of popcorn in his mouth. Iíll pause for that amount of cuteness to settle. Then, there was the action. I was a few rows back of the ice which increased the need for extra layers of clothing, but in great position to marvel at the many mustaches I can only dream of growing. The Stingrays surrendered two early goals, but climbed back into the game with an overtime-forcing goal late in the third period. Their first goal of the night caused more than 2,000 stuffed animals to be thrown onto the ice, as part of the ďTeddy Bear TossĒ game theme. Some fans armed with bags of bears were apparently curling champs in high school, and others inadvertently entertained by uncoordinated throwing performances. If you canít throw a stuffed animal eight feet in the air, leave the country. In the shootout, the Stingrays pulled out the victory amid roaring fans and my cold-induced chattering teeth. The Stingrays Lilí Fan cheered too, but probably because cowbells were clanging and his dadís clapping meant a temporary competition-free moment in the popcorn bucket. Right on, lilí guy. Iíll see you and the Stingrays sooner rather than later.