New immigrant and HI employee, Ceri, shares her story about how she has embraced Canada's favourite sport, hockey!
I had heard about ice hockey and how it was extremely popular in Canada, almost like a way of life. Back in Wales, the only hockey I was used to was field hockey. As for the nearest ice rink, well that was a good hour’s drive away. As you can see, I was a total hockey virgin, but seeing as I was now a new Canadian I thought I had better embrace this sport and see what the big deal was all about.
My first hockey experience happened in a pub. I grabbed a stool near the TV, ordered a pint of Alexander Keith’s and a pound of wings and settled in to watch the game. I don’t think you can get more Canadian than that! I have to say, during that first game I did not see the puck at all! That little black dot just zoomed around the ice and I was unable to keep up. Perhaps the beers added to my slow reactions a little…The next game I could follow the game a bit more and then as each game came and went it all started to fit into place and yep, it happened, I became a hockey fan.
I was now a Vancouver Canucks fan and I felt the need to get myself a Canucks T-shirt so I could join my fellow Vancouverites in cheering them on to win the Stanley Cup. The next step in my hockey immersion was to see a live game at Rogers Arena. I remember that night like it was yesterday. I was so excited and my boyfriend (a Canadian) was excited too because this was also the first time he had seen the Canucks live. I treated myself to a big foam finger, grabbed some drinks and made my way to my seat. The arena is pretty big, much bigger than I thought it would be. The crowd was getting warmed up by Fin Orca (the Canucks’ lovable mascot) and then it happened. The lights went down, U2 came on and out came the Canucks! The crowd was alive, adrenaline filled the arena, it was amazing! Watching the game live was so different to watching it on TV. You could see just how fast the players were skating, how hard the blows were and get caught up in the crowd’s reaction.
I have to say, that first live game I saw has to be one of the best nights out I have had in Vancouver! I watched a few more games at Rogers Arena last season and even went to a playoff game, which was fantastic. I could not get over how Vancouver and its people were taken over by Canucks fever during the playoffs. From the lions at Lion’s Gate Bridge wearing Canucks jerseys to nearly every single resident wearing some sort of Canucks gear, the city was bursting with team pride. I remember one evening during the playoffs I had to work late, and when I left work the game had already started. The streets were deserted and then all of a sudden a huge cheer from the bars, pubs and restaurants (wherever there was a TV) echoed through the deserted streets. Oh yeah, the Canucks had scored! As the final drew closer, people took to the streets to watch the games on the huge screens around the city. If you wanted to watch it in a pub, you had to get a seat hours before the puck dropped. I can recall on the day of the Stanley Cup final, many of the pubs were full by late morning and the game was not until the evening!
It was such an anti-climax when we lost to the Bruins and then of course the riots did not help the mood in the city. But that is all in the past…we are ready to take on North America again this year and this time we will win the Stanley Cup. GO CANUCKS GO!