It’s hockey night tonight

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It’s known as Canada’s game for a reason, dammit

What the Puck?
Autumn McDowell

Sports Editor

If there is one sport that has the ability to bring together an entire nation, it’s hockey.

Almost everyone in Canada can relate to some aspect of hockey. Whether it’s driving their kids to the rink at six in the morning for practice, playing shinny with their buddies at the outdoor rink, or cheering on team Canada during international competitions, hockey lives here.

There’s no single reason or explanation as to why I personally love hockey so much. Sure, I love the physicality of the game; I love the different styles of play that can be showcased in a single bout, I love hearing the cuts made into the fresh ice and, of course, the unreal popcorn they serve at every game. But, more than all of that, it’s the feeling I get when I step into the rink and am surrounded by people who all have the same passion as I do – as embarrassingly corny as that sounds.

Every year, hockey fans fill rinks all over Canada to cheer on their favourite team. Whether it’s over cramming the always-cold community rink to support the local teams or sitting in a large arena as one of thousands of screaming fans at a National game, it’s all the same. Once Oh Canada begins to play over the airwaves and the crowd begins to sing with their breath hanging in the cold air, that’s where the magic happens.

You wouldn’t think one game could have such an effect on a single person, much less an entire country. But, whether it’s cheering on team Canada at the Summit Series, the Olympics, or the World Juniors, Canadian’s take great pride in seeing the maple leaf dawned in stadiums around the globe. Just to be clear, that’s the red and white maple leaf, not to be confused with blue and white.

It is often questioned how a sport that looks so aggressive and violent can be such a large part of Canada’s national identity, but it’s the games amazing ability to unite an entire nation that makes it truly Canadian. Complete strangers suddenly come together to cheer for their team in victory and defeat. Whether they are all holding their breath and hoping for that last-second buzzer beater goal, or collectively coming together over their distaste for Gary Bettman, hockey is powerful.

There is no discrimination between hockey fans in Canada – unless, of course, you like the Canucks – but no matter where you are from across the country, or what your background is, hockey is something that can instantly spark a connection between two people; it’s essentially the chat roulette for sports fans. Hockey: bringing strangers together since the 1800s.

For better or worse, Canadian hockey fans will support their team until the final horn sounds. When our team loses, every fan feels like a part of them was lost on the ice, too, even if they were thousands of miles from the game, watching the action from their living room. There’s just something about seeing athletes cry after a battle on the ice that really pulls at your heartstrings. But when our team wins, Canadians celebrate as if they have just won the lottery. Fans smile from ear to ear and high-five everyone that is in reach, because we have won – not “they”, but we.

Hockey is much more than just a game. It’s our game.

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