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What to Expect at your First NHL Game

By Chris Benson February 19, 2020

What to Expect at your First NHL Game

Hockey is one of the sports that is better to experience in person, rather than at home on the tube. Being at a hockey game, you get a feel for how fast, exhausting, and brutal the game really is. It is nonstop action and motion for the entire game, so there’s a reason hockey players are in such incredible shape. Most people can’t even stand up on skates let alone skate backward to defend a streaking winger. To get a true appreciation for the brutal ballet that is hockey, you have to be there. Now that you’re convinced and scored some tickets, here’s what to expect at your first NHL game.

Sweaters Are Everywhere

First things first: hockey players don’t wear jerseys; they wear sweaters. Say it out loud, “Hockey players wear sweaters, not jerseys.” That is a rookie mistake and will be overlooked the first time you say it. A veteran fan in a throwback sweater will gently explain your mistake to you but do it again and they might pull your card. Hockey fans love nothing more than wearing their team’s sweater to games. It’s a strong showing of their fandom, but it’s also functional. Those sweaters are warm, and it trends on the cool side at a hockey game, especially when you get close to the ice. If you don’t have a team sweater, then grab a patriotic USA sweatshirt and let those Canucks know where they’re at.

Know the Code

The number one unforgivable sin for hockey fans is getting up during the action. This rule is never explained, but somehow everyone just knows. Even for people at their first game, they just know not to get up during the action. Wait for the whistle to get up and get another beer or some popcorn. The same goes for the return—don’t attempt to reclaim your seat during play. Ushers at the entrance won’t let you pass during play in case you forget.

A Hockey Game Might Break Out

Not too long ago there was a common joke about hockey: “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” The history of hockey is based on fighting and is unique to the sport. No other sport permits fighting. Hockey players do five minutes in the penalty box and rejoin the game. With any other sport, the player is ejected, suspended, and fined. Fighting in hockey has been on a steep decline over the last decade, but it’s still part of the game, so know that going in if you don’t like blood and violence.

Always Stay Alert

There are plenty of distractions at any sporting event, but you need to keep your focus on the ice. There is glass surrounding the rink and nets behind either goal to protect fans from errant pucks. Goalies don’t catch them all, and a puck will come into the seats during the game. Don’t be a statistic by getting bonked on the head. Keep your eyes on the game and yourself out of the ambulance.


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