Hockey, more than just a sport

Hugo Calderon, @HCAL09

Hockey is a sport that if you’re not into, chances are you barely know what it’s all about. At least that was the case for me. Hockey was something I knew about but never looked into. Recently I was able to attend a San Jose Sharks game at the SAP center. It was truly an eye opening experience.

Each sport has its own culture, football games have tailgates and soccer games have Ultra fans that sing support throughout the game.The game I experienced had the entire home crowd join together to rise their team’s spirit up and the opposing team’s down. Prior to attending this game I had no knowledge about hockey or its culture.

I assumed there would be a fight between either of the teams’ players every five minutes and knew there were goals involved. As the game progressed I learned more about the rules, tactics and the overall vibe given out throughout the arena.

The Sharks’ intro left me astonished. Never before had I seen anything like it, the players came out of a shark head while the stadium lights were dimmed. Then the lights brightened up revealing all of the players on the ice.

In soccer everytime someone scores a goal you can hear the whole stadium erupt but at the SAP center, a horn reminiscent of a ship horn blows throughout the arena, adding more of a dynamic feeling to the experience.  

Joonas Donskoi opened the scoring for the Sharks with only 3:35 on the clock. As expected, the crowd started cheering then I heard a loud horn which I initially confused for a fire alarm. It added something unexpected for first-time hockey goers.

I was shown the tradition of throwing your hat on the ice when a player scores a hat trick. This was courtesy of Logan Couture, who scored his third goal of the night right before the game ended.

Couture scored into an empty net, completing his third hat trick of his National Hockey League career. This was unique, as it took me off guard when I saw people throwing their hats onto the ice until I was explained the reasoning behind it.

I had never experienced a game inside an arena before. An arena carries with it a more compact setting and bringing you much closer to the action compared to a stadium where the noise of the crowd carries over.

Location is something that also decides the turn out. Downtown San Jose, right next to Santana Row and five minutes away from San Jose State University, is a great location as it is in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Also being down the street from SJSU, the SAP Center is close to many different types of fans.

Overall, hockey is an interesting sport and it is certainly complex. Before experiencing it, I would have written it off as a small sport no one cares about but now know it to be the exact opposite.