This past weekend, I had a chance to put another check mark on my Bucket List when I had a chance to catch an Ice Hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. MSG is an arena that has a great deal of history and has had to be remodeled and refurbished over the years, just like the MCG in Melbourne, Australia. The big difference is that I don't think there has been any rugby played at the MSG, and I don't think any Ice Hockey matches have been played at the MCG.
The game I saw on Saturday afternoon was between the New York Rangers, one of the Original Six teams in the NHL, and the Philadelphia Flyers. There is a two hour drive separating these east coast cities. Regardless of the sport, these two cities really don't like each other. I had my first hint when I went to a bar across the street from the Garden, which had been taken over by Philly fans. When I asked a group of them to pose for a shot, they were happy to oblige....
|Getting Phlipped off by Philly fans.|
I had just settled into my seats at the MSG when they sang the National Anthem, the puck was dropped, and four seconds into the game, a fight broke out. Later in the first period, another fight, which I put on the top of this posting.
It's strange to people who are used to players getting red carded for fighting to find out that in professional ice hockey, fights ARE penalized (a 5 minute penalty), but the players are not always ejected. (That's usually reserved for a player leaving the bench or the 3rd man in a fight) Ice hockey traditionalists cry foul any time there is talk about getting rid of fighting-truth be told, the fans love it.
The thing I would say about professional ice hockey is that you have to see it live. Seeing it on TV just does not do justice to the speed and physicality of the game. I would tell any rugby fan visiting the US or Canada to try to take in an NHL game-it's a lot more fun than watching on TV, and if you can get seats for a rivalry game like the Rangers-Flyers, it really makes it a lot more fun.
|The game just ended, the Rangers won, 2-0|
Now that I have been to the MCG and MSG, I have got to make it to Twickenham and to the new Wembley.