My son took me to see my first ice hockey match in Cardiff. It was on 7th October 2017 and it was The Cardiff Devils vs The Belfast Giants.
We arrived at the venue to an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation. The car park was overflowing, hundreds of happy chatty people in team shirts were everywhere, staff members were giving away “clappers” I think they are called and the cue of people waiting to get in was growing.
Then we were allowed in, and the constant stream of fans of all ages eagerly streaming through the doors made the venue come alive. The air was buzzing with the fans talk of their ice hockey heroes and their faith that there heroes would win. I commented to my son about what a brilliant atmosphere there was, and observing the presence of families and people of all ages, I could see that this ice hockey match was a great place to be and was for everyone.
There were raffle tickets on sale, special pucks on sale for the “Chuck The Puck” competition, the shop was open and other things were happening too. After getting tickets we went in to get our seats. We were sat on a front row. We watched as the players came out onto the ice to practice before they went back in. Then we watched the staff prepare the ice again for the game.
Eventually and suddenly, music started, drums were banging and everyone were on their feet clapping and cheering as the players came back out onto the ice. First, there was a presentation of all the players before the game began.
Then the game began to the united chorus of “Let's go Devils!” sung out with great volume and enthusiasm by the loyal fans. The game was fast, furious and exciting. I'm sure that puck was travelling over 100mph across the ice at times! Every hit of the puck and clash of the hockey sticks echoed all around. I could even hear the skids and see the ice spray every time a player came to a halt and every time the players crashed into the what was like a tough plastic wall, there was a loud ear bursting bang. At timely moments throughout the game the drummers continued to drum out beats that the fans shouted out their match battle cries to, to encourage their hero's, especially if a player looked like he was about to score. Then, all at once, sirens were sounding, a red light was flashing, music was playing and the crowd were on their feet with a roaring cheer and clapping, Cardiff Devils had scored the first goal!
As the evening went on, I learnt a few things at this, my first time at a ice hockey match. I learnt that they play the match in 3 parts, that they are allowed to swap players during the game and I was surprised to learn that the players are allowed to fight, but there are rules. My son explained the rules to me, for example, not hitting in the face and then both players get sent to the “sin bin” and are not allowed to play for a set amount of time. He explained that allowing this to happen in a controlled way gets any disputes sorted out quickly and then both players and fans move on and bear no grudges, and therefore the fans are happy and there are no problems at matches. He told me that it is often made light of and turned into a bit of entertainment, helped by apt songs being played whenever a player gets sent to the “sin bin” that people have a quiet chuckle about.
During the breaks in the match there was the “chuck the puck”. People are invited to throw the sponge pucks they bought onto the ice, and the closest one to the target wins a prize. There was the raffle draw too. There was also this fun game where Teams of people get themselves into a giant plastic ball, and try and play football on the ice without falling over, everyone laughed there socks off at this! It was so funny!
After the breaks, as we continued to watch the game, I was thoroughly enjoying it. I was impressed at the skill, speed and strength of the players. I was impressed that the teams coach also played (Lord). I enjoyed the whole evening and the great atmosphere, so much so that I bought a T shirt and am now a fan of The Cardiff Devils ice hockey team. “Let's go Devils!”