Ice Ice Baby

My first ice hockey match

Coming from the land of rain and football, I’d never really bothered about ice hockey before. I don’t even know if we have ice hockey in England! Nevertheless, when the opportunity arose, I decided to go and see an ice hockey match.

Sparta Praha vs Vitkovice Steel at the Tipsport Arena, home of Sparta Praha. We arrived with absolutely no idea what we were doing- trying to get into the VIP door, then waiting in what could only loosely be described as a queue only to be told that the male doorman couldn’t search us girls and that we’d have to go to a different door with a female on it. After all of this hassle, we entered the arena, bought a huge amount of food and waltzed into the stands late enough to have missed a Sparta Praha goal. (Are they called goals? I think so.)

The first thing I noticed really was that where we were sitting was rather empty- good for us, since all we ever do is chat about what’s going on and take pictures of ourselves, which would surely annoy the “real” ice hockey fans. On first impressions, the arena wasn’t as big as I’d expected, but aside from our section, the rest of the seats were pretty full of mostly Sparta fans.

I didn’t know what I was expecting really, but it was a really different experience for me. The cheerleaders were a source of much amusement to me, as they didn’t really seem bothered about cheering for their team and more about doing the right routine for whichever song came on (for about 5 seconds before it abruptly stopped and the cheerleaders awkwardly ceased to dance). Of course, through all of this there were adverts and even some guy interviewing people and (I think) giving away prizes to members of the audience- however, none of us can speak Czech, so the effect was lost on us.

There were a few funny and weird moments throughout, the first involving a car being driven onto the freshly made ice after the first third, which continued to drive around for a while before the screens above the rink cut to the interviewer who was inside said car with what looked to be a random member of the audience. I think she won something, I’m not sure. The second, and most hilarious moment, was when the same interviewer tried to talk to a young bloke in the audience, only for him to go completely red and clam up without saying a word. I think he was in a competition too, but he certainly didn’t win anything. Imagine my amusement later on when he and his friend came and sat next to me!

As this was the play offs, we were reliably informed that in the event of a tie, the match would go to extra time and then to penalties (much like football). With the game ending 1 -1, we went into extra time. After another 20 minutes of extra time, we had to go to penalties. Everyone in the arena got to their feet, chanting “Sparta, Sparta, Sparta” as they scored the first penalty. The arena erupted, and continued to erupt as Vitkovice missed their first penalty. Sparta missed the next, as did Vitkovice. Then Sparta missed the next one- and as Vitkovice missed their final penalty, the crowd, and the Sparta team, went crazy. They’d won!

I’m not going to lie; I’m not really into sports. But I have to admit that the hockey definitely was interesting, and once we’d decided to support Sparta (When in Rome… or Prague!) I for one was having a great time, and I’d love the opportunity to go again.

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