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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Carleton pride comes alive at club hockey games

<ould give you a more traditional sports review, but that would defeat the purpose of a going to a Carleton club hockey game. Both of us are from or at least have family in Minnesota, so we like to think we have discerning eyes for the ins and outs of this complicated game of chaos on ice. But after the 5th time the crowd cheered for no apparent reason, we realized you don’t go to a club hockey game for the love of the game. You go for the experience, and that experience isn’t centered around hockey at all. Heck, even understanding what’s going on is optional. For fans of the team, they go for the rare opportunity to flaunt their Carleton pride, to actually get excited about a sports game, and to “drop it low” somewhere that isn’t a sweaty, overcrowded dorm room or Cowling Gymnasium. Yes, the “cool” place they’ve chosen to dance and drink the night away might be the middle school feeling Northfield Ice Arena, but hey, it’s one way to get through winter term.

Our journey into this hidden world of intrepid party seekers began at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night, when we ran after an unmarked school bus in front of Willis, hoping the guys wearing only sport coats in below freezing temperatures were the sign we had been looking for. The atmosphere on the bus felt like a mixture of an Irish pub and the beginning of a school field trip. People were fighting over pens to sign their permissions sheets. Apparently the SAO previously had issues with scrawling penmanship that made the forms illegible. We think this was probably a result of the consumption of clear “water” from bottles that were carried in coats, bags or simply out in the open, frigid night air.

We have both been to a few hockey games in our twenty-some years. But by no means does this make us hockey experts. At first this lack of knowledge loomed over us. However, once the team manager danced across the ice to early 2000s music that once thumped in the trendiest of nightclubs, we became slightly less worried about our inadequacy as official hockey reporters. The game started rather unexpectedly. There were no announcements. No reading of the team roster. Hell, we didn’t even know who our Knights were playing against.

We cannot say that this hockey game was particularly graceful. Really, it was like an unskilled ballet performance. Players in bulky pads took failed slap-shots, and the puck twirled wildly in the air perhaps more often than when it was sliding on the ice. But did we really pay much attention to the actual action? Honestly, not really. Our main focus was the rise and fall of the collective shouts of the crowd. Did we all cheer for the other team without knowing it? Of course we did. That’s what made the game so much fun.

It’s rare at Carleton to find a communal pack mentality running rampant at sporting events. In fact, it’s hard to have any sort of fan group at games. But Carleton club hockey is a rare breed of Carleton sport. It’s one that doesn’t require previous knowledge or even keeping track of the scoreboard. It’s one where players remained unannounced and relatively unknown to the first-time spectator. It’s one that’s much less about the style of play and strategic plans and more about the dedication and enthusiasm of the crowd. In the end, we can both affirm that Carleton club hockey is worth a watch. Especially if you have one of those “water” bottles. Our only complaint, that perhaps will keep us from joining in this weekend celebration again, is the disappointing fact that there were no major brawls resulting in the slow-motion flinging of padded limbs. We guess Carls are just too Minnesota nice for that.

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