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A bandwagon jumper’s guide to cheering on the Avalanches: Part One

Colin D. | April 17, 2014

“If you’re going to head to your nearest sports bar to watch the Avalanches play the Minnesota Wilds starting tonight you’ll want to be prepared. It’s important to act as though you’ve been locked in on the Avalanches all season.”

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The NHL playoffs are here and the Mile High City is abuzz with hockey excitement. You don’t want to be left out. Hockey is suddenly part of our civic pride.  
Maybe it’s been awhile since you paid attention to Colorado’s ice hockey squad. Don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of excuses. They’ve been pretty terrible until recently and there was a work stoppage in the NHL just a season ago. The “millionaires and billionaires” argument can easily to used to justify not keeping up with the Avalanches. Just act like you were perturbed and that you’re just now ready to forgive, forget and get back on board with the NHL.
If you’re going to head to your nearest sports bar to watch the Avalanches play the Minnesota Wilds starting tonight you’ll want to be prepared. It’s important to act as though you’ve been locked in on the Avalanches all season.
The first thing you’ll want to do is go a buy a jersey (hockey people call it a “sweater”). The safest bet is to pay tribute to the players of yesteryear rather than gamble on a current player who may be traded in the off-season. I recommend either Roy (pronounced “Wah”), Sakic (spelled like it sounds) or Forsberg (probably an American) however if you do prefer a current player go for McCannon. He’s probably going to be around for a long time. Definitely avoid Russian and Canadian names. They’re hard to pronounce.  
You should probably buy a hat, too. Hockey people just call them “hats”.
It’s important to remember that hockey games are played in three 20 minute “periods” so that you don’t accidentally make a reference to halftime. There are basically two halftimes, one after the first “period” or “third” of the game and one after the second. This is when you’ll want to order a Molson or a Lebatt’s. Sipping Canadian beers will help throw hockey nerds off your bandwagon scent.
The middle of the court is called the “centerline”. Don’t get caught referring to it as “midfield” or “half court”.  The court is made up of three “areas”, the “defending area” (behind the team), the “neutral area” (the middle) and the “attacking area” which is where to opponent’s net is.
Each net has a “goal tender” or a “goalie” in it. If you want to sound smart refer to this player as a “net minder”. Ours is called “Varlamov” which is hard to pronounce so people call him “Varly”. Anytime you can’t pronounce a player’s name just give them a cutesy nickname. For example you can call Patrick Bordeleua “Bordy” or Jan (pronounced “yawn”) Hejda “Yanni”. Even if the people around you have never heard the particular nicknames you invent they’ll assume you’re smart.
All the players on the ice play certain positions. Besides “goalies” there are “defensemen”, “left wingers”, “right wingers” and “centers”. This has nothing to do with their politics. Coaches pull players in and out of the game periodically, often as “lines”. Every coach has “lines” (or combinations of players) that he likes better than other ones. This is why you’ll hear the announcers refer to “first line, second line”, etc. If you want to fit in it’s important that you use the term “line” a lot.

There are several penalties you’ll want to familiarize yourself with so that you can yell stuff like “you call THAT boarding!?” I’ll get more into that topic in part two tomorrow.

Enjoy tonight’s match between the Avalanches and the Wilds and try not to look to stupid. Remember, hockey is an incredibly complicated and nuanced game that most people can’t really understand. 

Written by Colin D.

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