When I was a freshman, like many before me and many since, I lived in a quad in Baker House. Four women, one big room, and all the fun and excitement that went along with it. That also meant that on occasion it was nice to find another place to study. My favorite option was the room of an upperclassmen down the hall who liked to study in one of the libraries. The caveat to using his room was that I had to answer the phone and take messages, so that year I became the “voice” of IM Hockey. Every time the phone rang I used my best telephone voice, promising dutifully that JT would get back to them with the changes to the schedule for that week. It was not uncommon that year to meet someone who would say, “I don’t think we’ve met, but your voice sure sounds familiar.” I would laugh and ask, Oh, do you play hockey?”
From there it was natural that I would learn that a great way to spend an hour and delay doing a problem set was to go watch my friends from Baker House play intramural hockey. They played on the D-league team so it wasn’t as much about scoring as it was just getting across the blue line before the puck went back the other way. And then occasionally, for a real thrill, we’d go watch the B-league team play. That group could actually skate and check; it was amazing to watch, but I decided playing wasn’t for me since I seemed to have two left feet on the ice.
Now hockey may not seem that foreign to many of you, but remember, I was from California at the time. Hockey was something that was really only discussed every four years during the Olympics. Sure I knew about the “Miracle on Ice” but hockey was for Canadians, Russians, and those hardy souls who came from really cold places like Minnesota and North Dakota. I knew lots about swimming and water polo (and snow skiing, I admit) but not hockey.
But that has all changed. The enjoyment derived from sitting in a cold place, watching a group of people throw each other into walls, “slashing” each other with long sticks, and hitting that little round puck is tremendous. It’s become my “guilty pleasure” and it all started at MIT.
I decided the holidays were a good time to return home and recharge before Regular Action reading begins next week. So, my vacation started with a blizzard-be damned drive home to New Hampshire for a hockey game. My brother and I were part of a select group of the hardy, devoted, and some might say foolish, fans who ventured to Manchester in the storm for the Monarch’s game on December 19th. During the second intermission we threw teddy bears onto the ice that were given to local kids this holiday. Normally, we worry about things flying off the ice but this time we threw them on and for a great cause. We lost the game, that was sad, but we survived the storm and brought home our holiday “schwag” from the game. Over the last few months, I’ve amassed quite a collection, a bobblehead of the mascot Max, a puck, a plastic hockey stick, a miniature sized jersey on a plastic form, Atlantic Division champion pennant, and now a “Max” Christmas ornament, also of the bobblehead variety, creating what my brother refers to as “the shrine” on my office shelf. He shakes his head all the more when he hears me yell, “come on guys, convert the power play this time,” calling the players by name as if I actually know them. I send him email messages that say things like, “Zeiler’s back, Westgarth has another black eye, Boyle has been called up again, and Gabe’s out this week with an injury.” He looks at me with an expression that asks, “Who are you, and what have you done with my sister?”
So thus far this holiday, I’ve been to two games in Manchester. Today my brother and I will head to “The Gahden” for a Bruins game where they will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The tickets were his Christmas gift from me, with the string, of course, that I got to go to the game too. One of the benefits of being at MIT is access to the MITAC. They buy blocks of tickets for events in the Boston area and offer them at a discount to MIT students and staff. Previously I’ve bought discounted movie tickets, and gotten a membership to Costco but until I go to the Nutcracker next year the hockey tickets are the best thing so far. Yes, I’ll head to a Monarchs game once more before I end my time off, so it will be a total of four within two weeks. A heck of a way to spend the holidays, if I do say so myself. This winter, you’ll probably find me some night at Johnson Ice Arena (HoJo’s) watching the men’s or women’s team play. I’ll be the one with the huge grin on her face.
See you near the blue line!