I went to see the Houston Aeros play the Binghampton Senators at the AHL; for those who don't know, the AHL is the lower league in professional Hockey in North America, with 30 teams and the same league structure. Indeed, the AHL teams are all affilated with a NHL team. The Aeros are linked to the Minnesota Wild and the Senators are linked to the Ottawa Senators. The differences between the NHL and the AHL kind of end there, as the rules and set up are pretty much the same - think Premier League to the Championship.
It also turns out that there are shit loads of other hockey leagues in North American and they all offer something for anyone. I don't know why it hadn't dawned on me before, but it has now. It's pretty cool.
The sport was, as always, brilliant. We also got these cool thunder stic- wait!
They are pretty cool. You blow them up and then trash them against each other to make noise and piss off anyone sitting next to you. This is what they look like:
They make a racket. We were also sitting very close to action, which is quite different to the seats we had in the Shark Tank in San Jose - literally, the last row in the stadium, at the back. The proximity to the ice made for some hair raising moments when you momentarily forget that there is glass stopping the puck from ripping your face and beard off, and you flinch when it smacks upon it.
There was something wrong with the game though. No, it wasn't the fact that the Aeros lost (the first time I have been to a Hockey match and the team I am supporting have lost, natch) because, seeing the Texans and Dynamo fail, I wasn't expecting the Aeros to win. No, it was the lack of respect the fans had.
When the officials skated onto the ice there was suddenly booing - from all corners of the arena. They hadn't even made a decision yet! And, as the game went on, a few strange decisions that went against the Aeros meant that this inherent booing just got louder! And, from the fans sitting around us, it was clear that most of the teams' fans expect some miraculous hockey to be played by guys who, whilst playing some great hockey and what really was a pretty amazing game, can't be expected play better than the NHL teams. That's like expecting an SPL team to play Barcelona style football.
At any rate, the game was fun, and I ate a brilliant steak. So all in all it was a very good night.