As any die-hard hockey fan will tell you, watching your favorite team play live on TV just doesn’t compare to seeing them in person. The sounds and the energy of the crowd, the way the light catches the blades of the skates, even the smell of fresh popcorn at intermission all add to the experience of attending an NHL game with your family and friends. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets, read on to learn about some other benefits of being there in person that simply can’t be conveyed through TV or radio broadcasts.
If you’re coming to an arena or stadium on game day, prepare yourself. First, allow plenty of time to get there. If it’s your first NHL game, be prepared for security pat-downs and wending as well as high expectations. Any sporting event is a spectacle. Plan on arriving 45 minutes early for hockey games; later if you’re going for pregame festivities such as pep rallies or alumni meetings at local restaurants or bars in downtown arenas where WPC2029 one team is from another city. Second, pack light! Not only will you not need much, but even those who bring jackets and blankets find themselves leaving with them during intermissions because the ice rink keeps people warm. Finally, dress up! While jeans are appropriate in certain situations, dressing up means wearing coats or sweaters over dress shirts and dress pants for men. Women should wear skirts or dresses over tights and boots with no heel higher than 2 inches. For special events like New Year’s Eve games, everyone should wear formal attire with dress shoes or heels (no sneakers). To beat the cold, also bring gloves and hats. All that’s left is cheering on your favorite team!
Inside the arena
If you’re lucky enough to be sitting on an arena bench, your view of hockey action should include a window at ice level. This allows you to see exactly what’s happening on both sides of the puck without being blocked by fans seated in front of you. You also get a good look at body language—and can tell if someone is tired, frustrated or otherwise not up for fighting it out for 60 minutes. If you’re not sitting inside a box, try standing as close as possible to glass, or find an elevated spot that offers a clear view of all three zones and has few obstructions between you and play. The main concourse offers great views from about 20 rows back, but if you really want to take in the atmosphere, head to the club seats where there are restaurants and bars with terraces overlooking the rink. Plus, when players go into the locker room for intermission (or time-outs), you have a better chance of catching them and getting their autograph.
Behind the scenes
The size of a hockey rink varies depending on age and competition level. (Unless otherwise noted, all information presented here is for international-sized ice surfaces.) For club and recreational leagues, rinks can range from 200 by 85 feet (61 by 26 meters) to 200 by 100 feet (61 by 30 meters). Elite youth and high school players are often given ice that’s roughly 210 feet long and 85 feet wide. Olympic-size rinks—used at both amateur and professional levels—feature ice that’s roughly 260 feet long and 100 feet wide. The larger surface allows for more scoring chances, which in turn leads to more dramatic moments in games. While there are many types of goals in the game, an important component of the sport is its net. Hockey nets come in different shapes and sizes, but generally have posts with a crossbar. Nets must be able to fit between two blue lines—one spanning each goal line on either side of the rink. At regulation size, they measure 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep and 4 feet (1 meter) tall; they are 8 inches deep and 5 feet tall at international-sized rinks.
When it’s all over, NHL players go back home to shower and eat. Then they’ll spend some time with their families before getting a good night’s sleep. You don’t have to be an NHL player for your job to affect how you’re feeling on game day. But many of us are in jobs that require long hours and high-stress environments, so you’ll want to pay attention not just to how you feel when it’s game time, but also during your off hours, too. For example, if you’re spending eight hours at work every day (or more), chances are there’s some wear and tear happening both mentally and physically. You might notice that your energy levels drop in the afternoon or evenings, which can make it harder to stay focused on the task at hand or hit those deadlines you’ve set for yourself. If you find yourself having trouble sleeping, finding it hard to unwind after work, or struggling with physical symptoms like increased headaches or digestive issues – these could be signs that your stress level is becoming unmanageable. Talk to someone about what’s going on and find out what changes need to happen in order for you to get back into balance again.