Hockey, Live Sports, and Beartown

I’m currently working my way through the Beartown trilogy, a novel about a hockey-obsessed small town in Sweden. I’m gobbling up the pages, as the author constantly drops ominous hints at things to come, and I’m fully invested in the characters.

For a book about a hockey town, Beartown includes very little actual hockey. That’s fine with me–I don’t follow hockey and know very little about it. The last hockey game I attended was over 20 years ago (a St. Louis Blues game).

However, that changed this past weekend when my cousin came to St. Louis with his college team to play in an end-of-season tournament. Megan and I joined my aunt and uncle to cheer on Jason and his Air Force Academy team. As luck would have it, they were playing against a local team (Mizzou), so there was a great crowd on hand for the game.

I should mention here that hockey isn’t the only sport I’ve missed for years; I haven’t attended a live sporting event for maybe 10 years? It’s possible I’m forgetting something, but I really can’t think of one. I love sports, but I like them in convenient, bite-size pieces: highlight reels, summaries, and clips watched online.

So as I sat shivering in the hockey rink on Saturday night, I had forgotten what it’s like to get swept away in the action of a live game. It’s intense! Of course I wanted Jason to do well, but in mere minutes I went from just hoping to stay warm to cheering on my feet.

It was a close game, lots of back and forth. Mizzou scored, then Jason scored, then Mizzou scored 2 more. Jason scored another, and suddenly it was a 5-5 game in overtime. Air Force had a few chances to win it, but Mizzou got the last laugh.

It was a lot of fun, far beyond my expectations for the evening. I’ll be back next year if they return for the tournament, and in the meantime I’m going to try to attend a St. Louis City soccer game this year.

Have you ever been unexpectedly swept away in the thrill of a live sport that you don’t normally follow?

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