On average they seemed shorter than the other side. The home team though was still greeted with cheers as they skated onto the ice. The stadium, a little tired perhaps, but filled with pennants of past victories. A lot to live up to for this young team. The half full stadium of loyal supporters stands for the national anthem sung with gusto from a local singer. Applause, whistles and hooters and the five players on each side, with their goalkeeper making six skate out onto the ice.
Our team have lost the last ten games in succession. They’ve had a bit of a break. They should be fresh. This time could be different. The opposition has eight supporters at the arena. The break and advantages of the home game, surely must count for something?
They start and the play is at the opposition’s end. The score board assures us we have the upper hand with more attacks on goal than the others. But the first period is sluggish with none of these attacks converting into an actual goal. The announcer makes a plea for us to buy raffle tickets with the promise of $40,000 prize money.
The opposition are penalised and one man is sent to the sin bin for checking. This is our moment. Two minutes, with one man more than the opposition… The coach and manager gesticulate from the side lines. Players are swapped over. Play begins. Nothing.
We take a moment to appreciate the generosity of the sponsors. The coaches give their teams a pep talk.
Two minutes to go to the end of the period. The play is all down our end. Our goalkeeper is so large there is no way the puck is going to get past. It does. The eight supporters wave their banners, make some noise. The rest of the stadium claps politely. Manners.
The hooter blows.
A second raffle, this one is for the chance to win a voucher for Subway or one to get your car cleaned. Check the front of your programme for the four digit route to happiness. We don’t win this time… Maybe at the next interval. The Zamboni goes back and forth and once done the goals are put back in place and the players emerge. Our side with heads down.
Play resumes, now the other side are on the attack. They have double the attacks on goal than we do. A bit more aggression from ours, tempers beginning to fray. Now we’re one man down. Our side dig in, closer to one another, in contact. They play as a team rather than a collection of individuals. They don’t seem to want to concede another goal. It works.
More play. One of our more established players is back on the ice. It makes a difference. The others respect him, he has support when he makes a break. He scores! Relief, elation, cheers. The commentator is ecstatic. Once he’s calmed down a reminder to buy one of those all important raffle tickets…
Meanwhile the play has continued. Spurred on, heads now up our team renews their attack. It works and we’re ahead and only two minutes until the end of the second period. Perhaps we’ll win after all. Perhaps the change in coach is beginning to work. Perhaps there’ll be a return to our glory years. Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.
This time you can throw a puck on the ice or win some more vouchers. Maybe just get a beer or have a walk around, get the blood flowing into your legs again.
The final period begins.
All they have to do is hold on. 15 minutes away from victory. The back and forth continues. The pressure is on the other side now. They’re the more experienced team. On paper they should have the upper hand. Tempers show. The checking, blocking and slamming continues. They’re no. 24 is pulled off by the coach before he ends up in the sin bin. He comes back on the ice only to cause more aggravation and mayhem. He’s warned again. The coach gets him off the ice again. The aggression will come in handy but timing is everything.
Two minutes. We just need to hold on for another two minutes.
The opposition renew their attack. They take their goalkeeper off and substitute with another player to have all their efforts concentrated on getting another goal. The pressure is massive. No. 24 is let loose. He scores.
Still with only one minute to go we can hold onto this.
The eight supporters cheer again.
Another one, how?
Into extra time four against four.
We hold on but don’t score.
Three minutes into extra time. There may still be hope?
The eight cheer again.
It’s all over and they’re off the ice. The goal posts are moved before we’re out of our seats.