What belongs on a To-Do-List when making a trip to Vancouver? For us it was obvious ‘we need to attend a NHL game well because Canada and Ice Hockey’! Luckily we got the chance that one game did fit into our schedule, the local Vancouver Canucks vs. the LA Kings in the Rogers Arena and we were pretty excited.
At home in Germany Ice Hockey is not nearly as big as Soccer and thus it might be no surprise that we haven’t seen any live games at all. We have even been to Football matches and have been watching the Playoffs and the Superbowl for years now. Why not Ice Hockey, I really don’t know.
Coming from a city with (one of) the best soccer clubs in the world with one of the largest stadiums in Europe and the best home crowd – of course I’m biased here, but seriously, we are amazing – we do know what a sports event is. Our expectations for the NHL game were kinda focused on that aspect because to be honest: We didn’t know any players, we didn’t know much about the rules, we just wanted to have a good time. And at least we knew from TV, as we only watched some matches from the Olympics and World Cups, that the atmosphere of Ice Hockey can be pretty great.
On Gameday we arrived at the Rogers Arena and the first thing we noticed: There are many limousines! But well this just seems to be a north american thing, there is a special occasion so let’s just get there in a limo. I don’t know if this is true, but for us it felt kinda strange. Second thing: No one outside seemed to be (a bit) drunk and no one was chanting, everyone behaved very decent (nice Canadian people everywhere! :))
Inside the arena it was pretty awesome. So many fanshops, where we got Canucks wooly hats (the Canadians call them toques), and especially food & drink counters. Germany, you can learn a lot here! I mean we pack over 80.000 people in our local soccer stadium, over 4 times the capacity of the Rogers Arena, and I feel we do not even have half the number fast food counters. We got us something to eat and Craft Beers(!) – yes you don’t have to drink a shitty TV beer for too much money, you can also get good beers for…well too much money – very fast and took our seats, which were quite comfy by the way.
The teams were warming up and we were surprised how good we could see everything. We were prepared to have watch the game on the large video screen the whole time because we got tickets in the upper banks (next to the Canadian Zone), but no, the view was perfect. And surprisingly it wasn’t even cold in the arena.
Let the games begin
With the chanting of the national anthems, which was bit odd for us because in Europe and especially in Germany, we’re just not used to that, the game started. After just about 30 seconds a fight started, which is quite common for Ice Hockey games and always makes the crowd cheer really loud. We had fun and of course we were cheering for the fighters too. During the first period we had 3 or 4 fights, yeah this was kinda fun. I think I have never cheered for people fighting before. But hey these are professionals right?
But afterwards something strange happened. Well, on the one hand the game was not that good itself with no real chances for a goal, but we got especially a bit disappointed by the fans. No one was really cheering for their team. Here and there somebody shouted ‘Go Canucks’ but that’s pretty much it. And then we figured out how the system seemed to work. In Ice Hockey you have many breaks due to fouls, illegal plays and for cleaning the ice – with some nice to look at ‘ice boys & girls’. In every intermission, music was played and most of the time people were shown on the video cube. And when that happened, they started acting a bit crazy, started dancing and it seemed that no one was really cheering for the teams but only for themselves or others doing funny things. We found this to be very distracting because everyone seemed to watch the video screens most of the time and just waited for something happening there. And so we really missed the cheering we knew from soccer. To be fair we also do have our Ultra-Fans who start the chanting most of the time, but it is from the fans for the fans. It should be about your team and not about self-display.
Maybe another cause was also that the Canucks were pretty bad that day and finally lost 0:5 to the Kings but seriously, support your local team better even or especially when they are loosing. Thus the most emotional reaction during the game was near the end when the disappointed fans started to throw caps, hats, jerseys(!) and even beer cans onto the ice. It wasn’t really that much but really surprising to us. I mean you do not really encourage your team except when you are told to do so by the stadium speaker, but you show your anger very open towards the end? In Germany we simply whistle.
We left the Rogers Arena with mixed feelings. Of course it was great to see an Ice Hockey game for the first time and especially a NHL game. But to be honest the atmosphere was not what we expected and a bit of a downer. It was very friendly the whole time, something we could really need in some soccer matches where the mood is more aggressive, but was it loud enough, no. The real support of the teams was kinda missing for us and it felt a bit like going to a movie, where you sit in your chair, watch what happens on the screen and go back home. I mean we deliberately bought our tickets next to the Canadian Zone because it was said that this is where the party is, but sadly it was not. Well it was just one game that we watched and maybe it is totally different with other games/arenas/teams and I’d still recommend to attend a NHL game if you have the chance to do so. We had a nice evening, saw our first Ice Hockey game and maybe we just had too high expectations.
If you get the chance, go and a watch a NHL game. But if you are a european soccer fan, don’t expect a similar experience especially when it comes to the atmosphere.
It is basketball but it fits the well in here:
I’m not a huge fan of Bengalos and/or disrupting the game, this is just about team support and I felt the video is a good impression of the differences.