In an attempt to try new experiences and expand my comfort zone I went with my friend Angela to a Nottingham Panthers home game at the ice stadium on saturday.
We started with a drive into town and parked in hockley. I like Hockley the eclectic mixture of shops and restaurants the slightly offbeat industrial nature of many of the buildings the jumble of styles. There was a real buzz in the air and it was so busy. Lots of families, all kitted out in panthers shirts. We had half price pizzas and a drink at pizza express. They were real Roman pizzas with the thin crispy crust and the fresh fillings, indeed it was one of the best pizzas I have had outside Italy.Even the mozarella tasted as it does in Rome.
So thoroughly stuffed we made our way to the ice ring and found our seats at the very back of the stadium. Oxygen masks were not provided so I had to gasp for a few minutes.
The match was exciting even for me who does not do spectating sport. Three twenty minute bouts with a fifteen minute break in between each bout. There was a lot of showmanship and hype but it was all good natured. Five players and a goalie from each team attempt to get the puck into the net with the hockey sticks. The panthers were in black and yellow.
Whereas the Cardiff Devils were in red and white
It was pleasantly free from bad language and aggression. Indeed small children and elderly people were present in numbers and many families had come to see the game. There was even a newborn in a pram, although the baby hadn’t come on its own.
There was chanting and singing and gestures to accompany the chanting and singing. The supporters were very partisan towards the Panthers and when the Panthers scored their first goal, everyone stood up and cheered and chanted.
There was no violence or intimidation as there is at football and it was an extremely pleasant evening. On the pitch however there was quite a bit of pushing and shoving mainly to gain possession of the puck, but there was definitely more aggression on the pitch than off it. Such antics were described by the bloke sitting behind me as ‘love taps’. Presumbly just as a Glasgow kiss is a headbut.
The players in their gear looked huge but apparently without the protective clothing they are all quite slim and nimble. They could certainly move quickly and were very agile. Occassionally one would collide or be shoved into the side of the ring or there was a hiss as they turned their skates to change direction suddenly. The puck flew into the barrier around the ring fairly regularly and I found myself grateful for the barrier.
Players were sent off for various infractions of the rules and they would sit beside the ring for a couple of minutes. I didn’t understand enough of the rules to understand what the infractions were so I can’t comment. Every so often players would leave the ice and other players from the team would substitute. Therefore though only a few players at a time were on the ice the teams were much larger than those few players.
After each bout a young child would come onto the ice and perform a figure skating routine with jumps and turns and whirls. As they were under ten years old this was impressive. The mascot, in a puma costume walked around the stands giving out flowers and goody bags to people.
The console flashed with messages for birthdays and anniversaries and reminded the audience when to chant and sing. The Panthers scored two goals and managed to prevent the Cardiff Devils from scoring which was a tribute to their defensive skills as the Devils were on good form.
In the intervals a machine was driven around the ring to clean the ice. I would like to have driven this machine.
The whole thing had finished by half past nine and I was home for ten o clock.
I felt as if I had been to a fair or circus without the sick feeling from being thrown around and eating junk food. Just the light feeling of having been out with lots of people and the lights and shared songs and being part of something tribal.
Anyway I hope you like the pictures I took.
Your loving mother