Face off

It’s been years since J and I have been to a hockey game. Before the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and tickets skyrocketed in price, we used to go to a handful of games every winter, and for a while we went somewhat regularly to Boston College men’s hockey games. But COVID prevented us from going to crowded venues, stealing several years from our (and everyone else’s) social lives.

Today J and I went to see the Boston Pride women’s hockey team at Warrior Ice Arena in nearby Brighton. Warrior Arena is the practice facility for the Boston Bruins, so we felt at home with Stanley Cup banners overhead; not to be outdone, the Pride displayed their Isobel Cup banners on the glass surrounding the ice.

Going to a hockey game is like riding a bike: you quickly fall into the rhythm of the game. Compared to basketball, hockey is a low-scoring game: to the uninitiated, players seem to spend a lot of time just skating around, spurring some fans to scream “Shoot the puck” when players don’t seem to be attacking the net aggressively enough.

But if you’re a fan whose mind wanders while hockey players are skating from zone to zone, passing the puck to set up a play, you can rely upon other spectators to jolt you back to attention, as there is a surge of crowd noise whenever either team is poised to score.

This is to say that watching hockey surrounded by other fans is intrinsically different from watching a game on TV at home. Although Warrior Arena seats only 700 people, the crowd felt larger, with fans packing the rows ahead of us and a steady hubbub of noise coming from the standing-room-only concourse behind us.

It felt good to be back.