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Tag: OHL

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Arena #62: 11 facts about OHL hockey…

Sudbury, ON Since it’s 2013 and all, I just realized that I have been doing this OHL song and dance for 12 long years! Although after checking the Sudbury Arena off my list of unvisited OHL rinks, I am still 4 rinks shy of completion – 5 if you consider that North Bay is making a comeback next season! However, despite the incompleteness of my rink collection, I think I have a pretty firm grasp of the OHL game experience after taking in 113 games in my lifetime.

I always think about that commercial for the Fan 590 that aired several years ago. You know the one where Bob McCown goes on a rant about how sports fans are the same no matter where you go? That line has successfully pissed me off for several years now. Fans are not exactly the same wherever you go – not even close. If they were, then I have basically been wasting my life. The only common thing they share with other fans in the league is that they are all a fan of the same sport. Fans in places like Phoenix are smaller in number, so they have a tighter bond with each other and their team, than those of us living in places where hockey tickets are considered status items. Fans in small markets in the NHL are quite similar to fans of junior hockey. They are more protective of their players, like we are protective of the kids lacing it up in the OHL. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Leafs fan get “protective” over anyone on their roster. We criticize our best players, and thirst for the blood of our worst.

The reason I love traveling around to different hockey rinks is to see how the game that I love is celebrated around the world. How do the other fans cheer? What do they eat? How tight is their community? How much do they pay for beer? These are just some of the few answers I seek every time I take to the road in hockey related exploration. That said, and in fairness to Mr. McCown, there are definitely a few common components to the game experience and fan community throughout the various ports of hockey around the world. So, in honour of my 62nd hockey rink, and my 18th OHL rink (2 are now inactive), here is a quick list of the 11 things you are sure to experience at any given OHL game.

#1 The stick boys or “equipment managers” are almost always short!

#2 You will always meet one old man that will talk your ear off about how he used to play junior hockey, and was “better than those kids out there [on the ice].”

#3 The fans mostly refer to the players by their first names and not their last names, “Goooo, Mikey!”

#4 You will always encounter a striking number of people that walk a fine line between “special” and “normie.” LOL! Sorry if that doesn’t sound very PC, but it is a fact of OHL hockey!

#5 The more Northern (and Eastern from Toronto) the hockey rink, the older, and more run down it is.

#6 If you are a lone female at the game you will ALWAYS be mistaken for one of the players’ girlfriends. I’m 27 and this still happens to me! I can’t remember the last time I went to Will Call, and the sales staff didn’t waste 20 minutes riffling through all the players tickets looking for mine.

#7 People like me just don’t exist. The OHL communities are so tight that they recognize outsiders instantly. Once they find out that you aren’t there in support of the visiting team, they will be more than extremely confused. “You came all the way from Toronto?!?!”

#8 The ladies room is always flooded with young puck bunnies who make a point to cast a judgmental eye on any other woman who attempts to apply a little lip gloss.

#9 The smaller the town, the likelier it is that the cute guy chatting you up in the stands is actually married.

#10 OHL poutine is far superior to NHL poutine! Take that, Ottawa Senators!

#11 There will always be one OBVIOUS 12 year old girl that fawns over the players, and one hockey player that clearly has no idea she’s 12.

Anyway, as for my trek up to Sudbury for the Wolves 2PM puck drop against the Greyhounds on Sunday, it was definitely one of my more interesting games. Sudbury itself seems like a pretty interesting place, although I didn’t have much time to roam around. I left Toronto at 8AM and got into town just after 11AM (don’t hate me for my time saving brilliance). The rink was OLD and in need of some love, but the fans were nice enough, but clearly came from a different universe than I did. I was asked by three different people if my phone was “THE iPhone.” This is how the conversation went every time:

Them: Is that THE iPhone?

Me: It’s the 4S.

Them: Oh, what’s that, a Samsung?

Me: No, it’s an iPhone.

Them: Oh, so thats THE iPhone?

Me: Yeah…

I didn’t quite know what to make of this. I haven’t seen such obliviousness toward the iPhone since I lived in Korea. No one had Apple products when I lived there, but perhaps things have changed.

As for the game itself it was an exciting one. It wasn’t what I expected to happen, but the Wolves made short work of the the Greyhounds. I also made sure to keep an eye on Wolves #27, Joshua Leivo, as he’s one of Toronto’s prospects. He is definitely a presence on the ice. He assisted on 2 of Sudbury’s 4 goals that night. If I had one criticism I’d say that he is easily knocked around and loses his footing, and will probably need time to bulk up in the minors. Better keep him away from all the vegans on the Marlies roster then!

While I was at the game, I started to get that old familiar tingle. I was suddenly taken back to March 2009 when a two day trip to Boston for a Bruins game turned into a two week, six game, four State adventure. I took a look with my newfangled iPhone, and saw that the Greyhounds had a home game the following afternoon. Sault Ste. Marie is the last of my Canadian unvisited OHL rinks, and it would have been so fun to just flip into survival mode, like I did nearly 4 years ago in Boston, and extend my adventure. I had fantasies of storming the Zellers that was up the road from the rink, and buying some underwear and deodorant so that I could actually be somewhat presentable the following day. I was creaming my jeans just thinking about having to book hotel rooms and hockey tickets on the fly with nothing but a phone. Sigh! My extended OHL adventure was sure to be a fun one, but then reality set in, and I remembered I had promised my little cousins to take them tobogganing the following day, and I didn’t want to be a fucking deadbeat. Clearly I’m making progress. I mean, back in ’09 the fact that I had exams and essays due while I was on the road, wasn’t even enough to bring me back home. All I have to say is thank fuck I didn’t fuck up my life too badly chasing that white rabbit all those years ago.

So, with a heavy heart I went back to Toronto that night. I had a lot of disappointments that day. A) I denied myself a super fun adventure! B) I didn’t see a damn moose in my travels! C) The spicy man chatting me up from the seat next to me was (obviously) married. UGH, I miss road trip scandals, especially now that I am officially back on the prowl after the Ginger Snape incident. Speaking of Ginger Snape, here’s a quick update. Evidently he read my post about him. I’m actually shocked he was making that much of an effort. Truthfully, I assess a man’s interest in me based on whether or not he has ventured to this site to half stalk me. Given everything that went down prior to the Marlies Boxing Day game, I definitely didn’t think he was an avid blog reader. Anyway, it seems that the only part of the post that he focused on was the “almost got laid” part. God… If you can still get it up for me after the stuff I wrote, you either have emotional problems, or a supercock… Hmm…

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Friday, November 16th, 2012

I’m scared of Russian hockey players and NHL General Managers…

Toronto/Sarnia, ON This week was definitely the most interesting yet since my unfortunate return from Japan. That’s right, I said ‘unfortunate.’ I’m really starting to regret leaving the place where I had several steady paychecks for our struggling NHL-less economy! And from what I’ve seen/heard this week, I don’t think things will be changing anytime soon.

Last week Patrick Burke, one of the founders of the You Can Play Project, was nice enough to ask me to come out to the annual PrimeTime S&E Sports Management Conference in Toronto, and help hold down the You Can Play fort for the duration of the two day event. Maybe it was the fact that I was Vice President – Recruitment for my sorority in university (and I’d just like to add that I ran the most successful recruitment campaign my chapter had experience in nearly two decades OR has experienced since – thankyouverymuch!), but I obviously jumped all over this opportunity, as I absolutely LOVE working the trade show circuit, especially for such a good cause.

For those of you who didn’t catch my last post (sort of) about the You Can Play Project, then here’s a brief rundown. The You Can Play Project essentially aims to make the locker room a safer place for all athletes, where they can be judged solely on their skill, talent, and character, and not their sexual orientation. Of course, the root of the issue lies not (entirely) at the professional level, but at the amateur level where the young future stars of the game are often made to feel like they must give up their passion due to a hostile and homophobic atmosphere in the locker room.

As hockey fans, we all know that the chemistry in the locker room can be just as important as the chemistry on the ice. We have all seen what can happen when a guy comes along and disrupts that delicate balance for whatever reason i.e. sleeping with another player’s wife, and what that can do to the success of our club. While infidelity is obviously a fair reason for hostility in the locker room, a player’s sexual orientation is not. Hopefully with the work that the You Can Play Project is doing we will see more LGBT athletes in professional sport in the future.

And now back to me.

On Day 1 of the conference I had to leave after lunch, as I already had plans to be at the Subway Super Series game in Sarnia that night before being asked to come out to the event. Kind of wish I knew about the event earlier because it sounds like the last few hours of the day were quite interesting, and I think I may have rather been there for that, than to see Nail Yakupov make a return to his old barn. Anyway, the lunch was a bit revealing, I thought. Gord Miller emceed a panel discussion on the NHL Lockout, and when the crowd, which consisted of several heavy hitters in professional sport – including two NHL GMs, was asked if they thought there would NHL hockey this year, well, not very many people raised their hands (including me). Eep.

Lunch ended at 2PM, and I literally bolted out of the Westin Harbour Castle, site to many prior Psycho Lady indiscretions in seasons past, in hopes of narrowly missing the (now constant) rush hour traffic – I didn’t, by the way. Naturally it poured the entire way to Sarnia, too! I don’t think I have ever actually driven down the 402 in non-extreme weather conditions in my entire life. If it’s not a total white out, then it’s torrential rain, I guess!

I barely made it in time for the warm up, and actually sprinted across the parking lot to the front gates. Not missing the warm up is #2 on my list of rules for attending hockey games. Not leaving before the final buzzer is #1. I am also happy to report that RBC Centre was jammed that night. Last season, the place was practically empty the night former Sting player, Steven Stamkos, scored his 53rd NHL goal on his epic run for 60. It was the first round of the OHL playoffs, too, but my friend, a local, informed me that the fans in Chemical Valley are so disillusioned with the team, that they don’t usually bother showing up until the second round. Sarnia wouldn’t end up seeing second round action that year, unfortunately.

However, in Sarnia, everyone loves Yakupov! I should know. I was just lucky enough to be planted in the middle of a little-boy hockey team for the duration of the game. The kids must have been about 6 and 7 years olds, high on sugar, and under minimal parental supervision. Yeah, if there was still a small chance of me ever procreating, that’s definitely down the toilet now. Anyway, when the kids weren’t being totally obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious, then they would often scream at the big, red machine that was Team Russia, “BOO EVERYONE BUT YAKUPOV!!!!”

Team Russia was an intimidating presence on the ice, despite falling to Team OHL 2-1. I don’t know what it is about red uniforms, but I remember going to see the Red Wings back in the day, and as soon as they stepped onto the ice they were literally a big red machine, that instantly made their opponents seem much weaker and less organized. Team Russia is like that. They were visibly bigger, taller, and spicier than Team OHL. And I don’t feel creepy about saying that Yakupov is spicy, as the woman sitting next to me asked me if one of the Team OHL players was my boyfriend! So, obviously my assumed age was somewhere between 15 and 20! Clearly my 17 y/o disguise was a bigger success this season!

I thought the age thing was a fluke until I arrived back at the Westin for Day 2 of the conference. I noticed early that morning that people were speaking to me like I was a high school student needing to apply for universities this month. I was baffled, but then I remember that I darkened my hair again, and that always shaves off a few years. Who knew it would shave off so many, though?! Blondes may have more fun, but they also look worn out a lot faster!

Anyway, despite the fact that the agenda for Day 2 seemed a lot more fun than Day 1, it was a VERY slow day. Gary Bettman was scheduled to be the keynote speaker that afternoon, but, due to obvious circumstances, he had to withdraw from the conference, and I think many people withdrew right along with him.

I did slip away from the You Can Play booth that afternoon to sit in on the panel discussion about the use of Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media in professional sport. It wasn’t as interesting as it sounds, unfortunately. While I was in there, however, I had a brief run in with the Leafs GM, Brian Burke. If you didn’t know this (even I didn’t really know this until this week), if you are the GM of the Leafs, then you pretty much own all of Toronto. Brian Burke might as well be the mayor!

Anyway, as I was watching the discussion on social media, the GM had to pop out of the room for a bit, but not before giving me and my You Can Play shirt that hard, truculent Brian Burke stare that we all love here in Toronto. Brian Burke is the father of Patrick Burke, and so I naturally started to feel like I was getting the slacker stare down for leaving the booth unattended – even though they told us we could leave our booths during the actual discussions since everyone was in the conference hall anyway! It’s not my poor work ethic, I swear LOL!

I guess I learned this week that I draw the line at NHL coaches. You all know that NHL coaches don’t intimidate me, what with my brazen drink and dessert exchanges with them and such, but apparently GMs can still put the fear of God in me. It’s kind of nice to know that something still can!

Due to the absence of Gary, the event ended on an anticlimactic note, much like my love life SNAP! However, my week was still getting weirder. The week before a producer at MTV Canada had tracked me down, and asked me to come in and audition for a show she is producing. Well, you probably know how much I hate cameras, and how I would need a lot of coaxing to actually go on TV, but I did think it might be an interesting opportunity. After all, the reason I started this website was because I had interest from a TV producer/writer to turn the content of my book into a TV show or movie, and I thought this site would be a good way to keep the material flowing. Who knows if that show will ever happen, but I definitely thought I might like to feel these MTV people out a bit – not to be on their show, but just to talk shop a bit.

I had immediate regrets about my decision to head down to MTV after I was escorted into a room where four Jersey Shore wannabes, who clearly took this thing really seriously, were waiting to audition. Luckily, I was called in first. Three of the producers had assembled a massive document on essentially my best (or worst) Psycho Lady Hockey posts, tweets, and photos. Then they proceeded to bombard me with a whirlwind of questions like, “What’s a WAG whore!?” Unfortunately, my reconnaissance mission couldn’t even get off the ground in that atmosphere, but whatever. Oh and don’t go looking for me on MTV anytime soon. Even if I do “make the cut,” there’s no way in Hell I’m agreeing to go on TV!

Top Photo: Working hard or hardly working?

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