Ice Hockey - German style

February 09, 2011

I was so excited when a friend proposed we all go to a hockey game the other weekend. Hockey was pretty much the only sport I actually enjoyed watching back in the states (although my better half has shown me the redeeming value in S.F. Giants baseball - namely the garlic fries, hot nuts and beautiful view). In a new country fixated on Fußball, this was quite a find.

Pee-wee team was the pre-game entertainment 

I expected the game experience to be a bit different than what I was used to with the San Jose Sharks, but it surprised me in the ways it was. First off, it's important to understand that Löwen Frankfurt is not a Bundesliga team, but a club team. I'm not entirely sure when they went bankrupt and fell out of the league, but apparently the fans demanded a return and so here they are, working their way back. I'm just thankful their new colors are black and orange, as opposed to the previously heinous hot pink and turquoise.

Those aren't lighters (..or an iPhone app)

The other team was delayed, so we enjoyed a mini-game from some mini players to fill the time before they arrived. Once the teams were there and accounted for, the formalities began - such as the national anthem. And the fireworks. Yeah, you read that right. Apparently instead of holding up a lighter - or the even safer virtual version - these fans felt it necessary to show their support in the form of lit sparklers. At first I was bummed no one notified us of the hockey-fireworks exception, then I realized how far we were from an emergency exit. 

Game on!

Not surprisingly, there was not much shenanigans on the ice. I had heard German hockey was pretty tame and I'd heard right. No fighting, no checking, not much aggression to be seen. Near the end of the game, when the score was pretty close, the other team stepped up a bit, but still nothing like the NHL.

#16 - a fan-favorite

Even though the team wasn't as gung-ho as the teams I was used to, the fans certainly made up for that. Every time there was a goal, the same celebratory song was played, to which everyone sang and clapped along. And after the song was over? Then came a sort of call and response, of which I only came to understand the bit where the announcer says "Löwen" and we yell "Frankfurt." The one call out that did give me a moment's pause was when they'd cheer for yet another goal made by #16 - Schwarzer, who was affectionately referred to by fans and announcer alike as "Blackie." Yes, Schwarz means 'black,' but my overly-politically correct American self couldn't help but cringe. 

Political incorrectness and pyromaniacs aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the game and look forward to more in the future. €2 sausages and €3 beers don't hurt either.

 *Daily Drop Cap by Jessica Hische