I had really fallen out of love with the game at the turn of the year, but watching two games thousands of miles away reeled me right back in.
I’m a Calgary Flames fan. It’s pretty hard going sometimes. The team isn’t contending, they can be pretty hard to watch, and the goaltending sometimes give me hope that one day I can be a NHL player too.
Over the course of the last 12 months, I found myself increasingly disconnecting with the game – staying up til 5am to watch them being danced around will do that. I was switched on for the start of the current season, but when they started poorly again, I quickly lost interest. I was getting more and more into my rugby league, and it seemed too much like hard work to do the late nights or very early mornings required to watch the Flames live.
So this past weekend, when the opportunity to check out two games at a reasonable time for me arose, I thought “why not, it can’t hurt.” Those two games were the Boston Pride at the New York Riveters, and the Calgary Inferno at the Toronto Furies.
Both these games were available to watch for free, and they were both fantastic watches. A couple of technical difficulties aside, the streams ran fine, and it was a pleasing watching experience.
That isn’t why I enjoyed them though.
In the Rivs game, it was pleasing to see two teams, clearly playing very well, never giving a single thing up from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer. Both the Pride and the Rivs played with their hearts on their sleeves, and while it was gutting for a Rivs fan to see the team lose out like that in the end, I also went to sleep that night feeling much better about the game as a whole. The commitment and dedication on show is half the reason I got into hockey in the first place, and to see that reflected on the ice was heartwarming.
Then Sunday came, and the Inferno travelled to Toronto. And, to put it bluntly, played them off the rink. They dominated from start to finish, and the result didn’t flatter at all. A great showing and a great victory.
And then, in that moment, I remembered what it was like to watch a team of mine win.
I missed the Flames’ unbeaten streak in December. I follow Sunderland in football, so that doesn’t happen often. Castleford haven’t played since September. It’s been a long time. The streak was broken.
All of a sudden, I was back into the sport. I was keen to watch hockey again. I’ve seen the last four Flames games (they were all awful), I’ve watched a little bit of the Bruins, bits of the Coyotes…I’m back to being invested in hockey again, and I love it.
Thank you Rivs, thank you Inferno. I’m back.