On Saturday night, we attended the first hockey game I'd been to in probably 20 years. When I was really little, my dad would take me to see the Portland, Oregon Winterhawks, but that must have been back in like 1986 or so.
Hockey's big around here (seeing as it's so freaking cold all winter); even so, we had never been to a Portland Pirates game since we'd lived here.
The Pirates -- with their mascots, Crackers-the-Parrot and Salty Pete-the-Pirate (SALTY PETE? What the crap? Who comes up with this stuff?) (Oh, and Crackers-the-Parrot is scary. We saw him grab a toddler from her mom and pretend to "play" with the kid. Meanwhile, the kid is screaming and reaching for mommy and Crackers is doing that "I'm a dress-up-like-Mickey-Mouse" thing where he pretends to giggle behind his hand, as if to say, "Oh, me? You want me to give your kid back? Hee hee. Oh, you know I'm joking." It was really disturbing. That kid is going to wake up in 15 years with some complex about parrots and pirates and hockey and have no idea why.) -- are actually really popular around here. Surprising, I guess, considering the low status hockey endures in the Pacific Northwest. That said, however, our friend Erica, who scored the freebie tickets through her work, said that Saturday's game was one of the most crowded she'd seen.
It did look like the (quite tiny) Cumberland County Civic Center was pretty full for the Pirates' match against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (What the hell are Sound Tigers? Tigers that live near a sound, as in the body of water? Tigers that are loud, and therefore make sounds? Tigers that are stable and reliable, as opposed to those that are unsound, mentally or physically? I don't know; the explanation was never offered. Given the fact that the Pirates had them beat pretty (heh heh) soundly, I'd say it's probably the latter -- they weren't a very SOUND team.)
Anywhoo, the game was exciting. The Pirates scored a goal within 40 seconds of the puck being dropped. (Aren't I kewl using a phrase like "Puck being dropped"? Because, you know, it's hockey lingo. It's like the tipoff in basketball or the first pitch in baseball or the kickoff in football.)
There was lots of skating... (Leen: "Wait, what? What happened? Where's the puck?") As much as the game was exciting, it was kind of hard to follow. The puck is so little and my eyesight isn't great, especially sitting in the nosebleed section of the arena. (Which, in any other, larger arena would not have been the nosebleed section. Still, it was kind of high up.) I kept thinking I could see the puck and I'd look where I'd think it was, and suddenly all the players would be making a beeline for the other side of the rink, where the puck really was.
a few broken sticks over yonder (Leen: "Wait, what? Where's that guy's stick?! He's pushing the puck with his HANDS!")...
a lost helmet here...
a lost glove there...
an injured player in the background (Leen: "Hey, that guy's lying down! I think he's hurt! I think the puck hit him in the face!
For what it's worth, I'm glad the guy was ok, although (honestly) I was a little disappointed there was no blood on the ice. I know, I know...but it's hockey! There's supposed to be blood! And throughout the game, there was no blood! No fighting! They didn't even play the Zamboni song! (Horrors! A hockey game without the Zamboni song? What is the world coming to?!)
And then, there was the, um, creativity that was the half time (or third time? You know, since there are three periods?) entertainment.
They did this thing where people had to throw pucks onto the ice and try to hit the Napa Auto Parts target. And then they had like 30 people (and three mascots) there to help clean the pucks up. I didn't really see the point of the whole thing.
This photo showcases "Oakie," the Oakhurst Dairy Acorn.
Yeah. Oakie. I don't get it either. It's a very short person wearing red tights in a very round, foamy (I know! I poked it.) costume. I don't get it. Does MILK need a MASCOT? AN ACORN MASCOT? What the heck happened to, I don't know, the COW? Since when is an acorn an acceptable mascot? An acorn? I didn't get it.
Then Salty-Pete-the-homicidally-happy-pirate and Crackers-the-child-abducting-parrot helped with some kind of puck shooting contest. I don't really know what happened. Some kid won a $50 gift certificate somewhere. And that was another thing: the blatant, blatant advertising wrapped up in it all. Maybe it's because I live in some kind of non-consumerist cave or something, but it was just insane...every time the announcer opened his mouth, it was preceded by a , "This segment of our game is brought to you by [insert business name and tagline here]." I mean, I guess that's what pays the hockey players' salaries (is it?) or something...but it was just weird. I felt accosted by marketing images and slogans.
And then, in some kind of very, very strange marketing attempt, they drove a car onto the ice. I didn't understand. I was baffled. Why? I mean, I guess it's to show people this car. That was never made clear. Maybe the announcer said it and I missed it...but it was just weird, and very, very incongrous.
I wondered what the guy driving the car was thinking. "Oh, heck, I really hope I don't crash into the side." Or, "This thing's AWD better be as good as they say." Or, "How's I get stuck with doing this again?" It was just weird and didn't make much sense. It's not every day you see a brand new car in the middle of a hockey rink, I guess.
I can't complete this post without showing you the guy who was sitting in the next row over. I'll call him "Mr. Hockey Fan." I didn't get a very good photo, so I apologize for the blurriness...but man, he was a die hard. The jersey, the do-rag, the standing up-and-pumping-arm thing during "Sweet Caroline" (BUM-BUM-BUUUUM) (of course I thought of you and your Caroline, Kissy!)...it all combined to leave the impression of a die-hard fan.
Maybe the blurriness is a good thing, since it lends itself to some kind of obscuring Mr. Hockey Fan's face. So Mr. Hockey Fan, if you see or read this, know that I post this out of awe for your hocky-fan-ness, and am not necessarily mocking that very hocky-fan-ness. On the contrary, I find it rather fascinating. I wonder if you attend every game? If you wear that jersey and Pirates kerchif on your head to places other than the game? Perhaps you do. I fear that's a mystery that shall never be solved.
Finally, during the game, I weasled Brett into letting Erica take a couple photos of him and me, since we have so few recent-ish photos of the two of us.
We're pretty cute, if I do say so myself.
Overall, the hockey game was fun...a glimpse into another world, of which I am certainly not a part. Maybe we'll go back again before we leave Maine...I can think of worse ways to spend an evening.