When I started this blog, I had every intention to cover all aspects of the game of hockey that I am knowledgeable in. The reason I named it Hockey On All Levels was to not only imply that the topics covered would range from advanced to basic, but also that the teams and players I talked about would be at all levels of play. Like many, I am less informed of the on goings in minor leagues, but I will speak to what I can. For the past couple of months I have been volunteering time as an off ice official for my local NAHL and NA3HL teams. These are leagues you may not have even heard of, but do great things in getting kids and young adults continued exposure to the sport as well as preparation for collegiate level play. So as someone who has not normally been up to date with smaller leagues, here are some things I’ve picked up, both about the sport and the small time players.
- There are so many things going on behind the scenes that nobody realizes. When you’re checking on your fantasy team or just checking in on your team on your phone, you can see just about everything that has happened. Everything like blocked shots, shot attempts and shot locations, hits, or plus/minus has a person or team dedicated to accurately providing that information. It can be hard to appreciate it until you see it first-hand, but once you can, it makes for several new ways to watch the game. And all of them are rewarding.
- Hockey fans are among the most passionate in sports. Okay, we have nothing on soccer, but seeing crowds of people cheering on kids with as much fervor as I’ve seen in NHL games is a refreshing sight. When people find their team, they make it their team. As we all know, most of the audience likes to take on the role of the linesman and lend their advice to calls they disagree with. Loudly.
- This is one of the fastest sports ever played. Some roles involve active knowledge of who has the puck at all times. This affects scoring with goals and assists, as well as shots and shot locations. In some cases, they require eyes that are looking in 2 places at once. In larger leagues, there are multiple sets of eyes and open communication, but when you get to the more humble leagues, one person is usually in charge of a lot of things at once.
- Level of play doesn’t matter in the game itself. Once the puck is dropped, all bets are off and it’s time to push personal limits past what is expected. When somebody is giving everything they have for something they love to do, it is hard not to respect that person. And when there are 285 total penalty minutes like there were the other night, you know the players are putting all of themselves into the game.
There is always something going on in this sport, and I encourage you to look around and see if there is a way to get into local hockey. Maybe working is something that will interest you, or just taking in the experience, but it will be worth your while no matter how you support your team.