Here we are again approaching the end of the hockey season and once again our beloved Greyhounds are at the top of the league. We are also rated in the top 10 of all Junior clubs in Canada and that is a tremendous accomplishment for a young team like ours. It has not been determined who we will face in the first round of the playoffs, but whoever we play will have their hands more than full.
Like so many other Saulites, I get amped at this time of year because our local team will be playing their best hockey and trying to secure a championship. It’s junior hockey and absolutely anything can happen once you make it into the playoffs.
Aside from the great entertainment on the ice, I also embrace the hockey season for sentimental reasons. I remember taking my daughter (let’s just call her Ashley) to the games over the years. I sure was a proud father and we had lots of fun. She has since told me that she only went because of the candy and junk food I bought her, but who cares right ? Those were memories that will never be lost. As she got older, the phrase “Dad, stop !, you’re embarrassing me” were peppered in our conversations at the games LoL. Oh I miss those days ! I relive those moments at the Hound games now when I see other parents with their young ones. You see, the experience of taking in a Greyhound game is about a lot of things , not just hockey.
For roughly $20 a ticket, you get two and a half hours of entertainment in a warm and safe environment, you can win prizes and play games (chuck a puck), and you also get to witness future NHL stars being molded into fine young men and professionals.
If you are not a hockey fan per se I would still encourage you to get out and support the team over the next few months. The chatter that goes on throughout the game is a testament to the bonds and friendships people create over the years. I have met so many nice people that I would otherwise would not have met if it weren’t for the Hound games. I enjoy getting to the rink about 30 minutes before the game starts just so I can grab a cup of java, and catch up with old friends. The hockey talk and Hound buzz isn’t just at the arena either. Anytime you are in the food court at the mall or in my case, the Westport coffee shop (support local), you are bound to overhear chatter about the Hounds play as of late. Local businesses thrive and survive because of our hockey club. Before games, the restaurants and watering holes downtown are filled with fans and that is why supporting our team is much much more than just about who wins the game on the ice.
The Hound experience takes two forms. First you have the social and community aspect and then you have the technical aspect that deals with the actual hockey itself.
The social and community aspect of following the Hounds and supporting them goes deeper than you may at first glance think. The Greyhounds impact the community by being role models for kids. they visit primary schools, they are ambassadors for Sault Ste. Marie when they go on to be successful in hockey and in life, and they also participate in fundraising for local charities and causes. I have spoken to a few billets of the players over the years and they have nothing but praise and respect for these young men. Many life long bonds and friendships have been made over the years due to the dedication of the players, billets, and Greyhound Organization.
In regards to the technical aspect of the Hound experience as a game , a lot has changed over the years. Back in the day, you could see two gladiators drop the mitts at centre ice, you could hear loud horns, cowbells etc , and you could were encouraged to make as much noise as possible. These days things like that are not tolerated. You have the same odds of seeing a pillow fight at a junior hockey game as you do of seeing a fight these days. According to some fans, and I use that term very loosely , we are suppose to be quiet, passive and sit on our hands during the game. Lighten up people, it’s a hockey game. not a wake !!!
On the other side of the coin, the game has changed for the better in a couple of areas. The three on three overtime, video replay, and the exciting shootout adds to the “sudden death” excitement. When a player skates in alone and his goal or our goalies save means the end of the game, that can really mean sudden death if the old ticker is weak. For the most part, the game is still the same; five players aside, skating, hitting, and scoring. It really is the most exciting game in the world and year by year more countries around the world are getting involved. Kuddos to Canada for putting it on the map !
Oh, I almost forgot to mention; in respect to nostalgia and memories, back in the day you could see my buddy, ( for the sake of anonymity, we’ll just call him BRAD, ha ha ) do his best monkey impersonation. I remember one time he flew down the stairs and climbed up the glass to “let the refs have it” . LOL I guess that’s frowned upon these days….But that was hockey !!!! Boy oh boy I miss those days, forget about Dash (hound mascot)…bring back Brad, give him a beer and let him loose ! LOL
Friends, I feel a long playoff run ahead and encourage you to show your support and fill the Essar Centre. I also challenge all the other baldies out there to do as I am going to do this playoff run. I’m going to have “Go HOUNDS Go” painted on the back of my head for each playoff game. If that’s not your thing, wear your Hounds jerseys, shirts, hats and be proud and loud !!
C’mon lets show our support and pass on the energy to the Boys of Spring ….Go Hounds Go !!!!