When I grew up, hockey was something that was said to come out of a bull – as in – bull hockey. So the word “hockey” was associated with what we call in the social media world as the “poop emoji”.
From an early age I loved American football, especially high school football. I grew up in Georgia and you either liked football, baseball or both. There wasn’t much attention paid to any other sport. I never knew much about the sport of hockey until the late 70s. We were living in Villa Rica, Georgia and somehow I got to see some Atlanta Flames games on television.
I watched them in their best season in Atlanta in the 1978-79 season, but they were swept by the Toronto Maple Leafs in two games in the first round of the 1979 Stanley Cup playoffs. I paid more attention to them the next season which turned out to be their final season before they packed up and moved to Calgary.
Then, who could forget the “Miracle on Ice” when the U.S. Olympic Hockey team won the Gold Medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics? I listened to the Gold Medal game on radio.
It wasn’t until 1983 that I attended my first hockey game in person. I was going to a school in Indianapolis, Indiana and learned that the United States Olympic Hockey Team was playing an exhibition game against the Indianapolis Checkers. The Checkers were a minor league hockey team.
After that, I watched hockey occasionally but didn’t get to attend another game in person until I worked for the Macon Telegraph and met a co-worker who was a big hockey fan. Specifically, he was a fan of the New York Rangers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a hockey team in our immediate area at the time. The closest hockey team was a minor league team in Tallahassee, Florida. We actually drove down for a game. In 1992, Atlanta got a minor league team called the Atlanta Knights in the International Hockey League (IHL). We went up to see a game there. It was a higher caliber hockey but not quite the National Hockey League (NHL) level.
In 1996, there was a renewed interest in hockey in Macon, Georgia where I lived. The Macon Whoopee started playing in the Central Hockey League (CHL) for five seasons. I attended many, many games there. Early on I remember attending when it was a packed arena and thinking it would be around for a long time. The team finally left in 2001 but in 2002 the Macon Trax brought hockey back. They bounced around three leagues over the next three years before leaving.
When my wife and I moved to Nashville in 2014, we started trying the different sports teams. She bought us tickets to a game for a Valentine’s Day gift but on the night we were supposed to go, a heavy ice storm hit the area and it wasn’t safe for us to drive. When we talked to the Nashville Predators front office about this situation, they gave us some free tickets for the next season.
In October 2015, we attended our first game. We had great seats and survived the annoying lady next to us that was trying to tell us how to cheer the Predators. We did pretty good on our own and from that game we were hooked. My wife had never seen a hockey game in person but now she is just as much a fan (or maybe more) than I am. She has definitely been converted. I still have to explain the rule about offsides to her but she’s definitely “coaching” the team during the game. It’s been fun watching her conversion.
Hockey is an awesome sport. Lots of action. We don’t like the fighting and wish they wouldn’t do it. In fact, in all the games we have attended in person, there weren’t any fights at the game. During this past season we have watched almost every game on television.
Football is still number one for me – although the last Super Bowl almost did me in. Hockey is definitely a close second for me now.