SHH…it’s a hockey game.

Saturday night was a tale of three periods on the ice, but also for me in the stands while attending the Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames game at Rogers arena.

The first period was all kinds of entertainment. The anthem was top notch as always when led by Mark Donnelly. We were in a great section with fans cheering for the team straight from puck drop. I love it when the arena is loud and completely in unison showing support for the team and grief for the refs. Our section felt like it was completely in sync(or so I thought, more on that later). The goal from Eagle may not have been how the team drew it up and yes most nights a shot from centre ice does not end up in the back of the net, but it got the arena up on their feet and the opening goal for the home team.

And then as enjoyable as the game began, it was suddenly not at all. It went slightly downhill during the first intermission when a fan in front of me turned around to let me know how to showcase proper etiquette: “Shh…it’s a hockey game. Please do not cheer so loudly, we are watching the game. Thank-you.”

Umm…no, why thank-you, I was not aware that this was a hockey game or that nearly 18,000 fans were meant to be silent. I was unaware that we were watching two different games. Or more accurately, I was unaware that I am not allowed to cheer for my team in their own arena along with the other fans in our shared section. Suddenly this game went from fun to being silenced in the stands. Ryan Miller made save after save and I was forced to merely observe, not allowed to actively participate in any of the activity that makes hockey games an experience. I was present but it felt as though I was  And you know what, watching the game in silence, not being a part of the voices ringing out in the arena is no fun whatsoever.

By the time, the second intermission hit, I was completely out of sorts. This was not how the game was supposed to go. Attending a hockey game is not supposed to make me feel like an outsider unwelcome.

Cue the third period and overtime. By the start of the third period, I was feeling a little lost being a place that has always felt like home but on this night was made to feel like a bit of an outsider. Just when I was beginning to wonder if maybe the problem was me and my cheering for the team, a fellow female fan sitting next to us turned and started talking to us about the game. A life long Canucks fan, but this was her first game in nearly 3 years and she told us that our cheering was not a disturbance but rather helped make her feel like she did when she came games when she was a kid. Pretty soon we were talking about all things hockey and Canucks. Together, we cheered loud for the rest of the game and yes when that buzzer beater went it to the send the game to overtime, we were in a state of slight disbelief and annoyance and excitement for the impending overtime. This was also the first time that she had ever witnessed the craziness that is 3-on-3 overtime and what a game for Chris Tanev to score that game winning goal.

To the fellow kindred spirit who shared the third period with us supporting the team, thank-you for completely turning the night around and turning the hostile environment back into the one that felt like home. It made all the difference and really helped make the night memorable for all of the right reasons. So glad that you got to see a home win! Thank-you again and welcome back to the rink, I hope you guys get to make it to more games now!

And to the stranger who felt the need to try to teach me the proper etiquette of attending a hockey game, guess what? You’re right that we were indeed at a hockey game but that does not give you the right to tell me or any other fan how and when to cheer for THEIR team. And perhaps you enjoy watching the game in silence, but for me that’s not in my nature to be silent especially when it comes to watching hockey live. I will not apologize for showing support for my team while in their arena and I will no longer be silenced or made to feel uncomfortable. I guess you missed the memo that hockey is for everyone.

Perhaps next season, I will have to make sure to be in that newly minted supporter’s section for all of the games that I attend?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E L.

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