Friday, March 14, 2008

Bonjour, college hockey

Everyone agrees hockey is a sport best enjoyed live and in person. That is especially the case for US college hockey. In fact, this is usually the only way TO see games, because unless your cable package includes ESPN8 ("the Ocho!") or every regional sports station in the country, chances are you won’t see any games on TV. But lack of mainstream coverage is a part of what makes cramming into a hockey arena with a capacity of 2,300, and smells about the same as each of the team’s locker rooms, to watch a game so special.

Recently I returned to my alma mater, Colgate University, to see them take on Dartmouth. Colgate Hockey plays in the ECAC. While this is not one of the major college hockey conferences, compared to HockeyEast or the WCHA, the ECAC has its own charm and scrappiness. Not to mention it has produced some notable NHL talent of late: Erik Cole of Clarkson, Martin St. Louis of UVM (While UVM now plays in the HockeyEast, at the time of St. Louis tenure there they played in the ECAC) and Andy McDonald of Colgate.

There was no such talent on display last Saturday. It was a sloppy game with lots of stupid penalties. Being that the college game is much slower than the NHL, it places an even greater emphasis on special teams play. This was especially obvious in this game, as 4 of Dartmouth’s 5 goals came on the power play(ouch). As you can guess, Colgate lost the game, 5-2. The lone highlight for Colgate being a nice break away goal scored by Francois Brisebois. (Is that not the most awesome French Canadian hockey player name ever????)

But college hockey games are about so much more than just the box score. They are about packing into a small arena with bench seating. They are about yelling, screaming and the chants. (at Colgate, the tradition is after the announcer states “One minute remaining in the period” to yell “And [opposing school] still sucks!!!!!”). And of course, they are about running out during the intermissions to the stash of beer cans you hid in the snow behind the arena, and sneaking booze back in your soda cup.

VT is a college hockey fan, sometimes Capitals fan, and all the time Habs fan. Despite that, look for more posts from him in the future.

1 comment:

belmontmedina said...

I was so confused, and about to point out that you didn't go to Colgate, VT really should have put something at the top, for those of us that are slow.