Everyone knows football stadiums get loud. Everyone knows basketball arenas shake during pivotal free throws. But does everyone know that a hockey rink is just as good a place to find roaring ASU crowds?
Oceanside Ice Arena, home to the No. 2 ASU hockey team, was jumping Saturday night when ASU took on UA.
In a 6-0 win over the visiting Wildcats, a game that extended the Sun Devils’ win streak to 34 consecutive games over UA, the stadium was filled with the kind of loud and involved ASU crowd you would typically find at a football stadium.
And that’s slightly surprising.
Let’s face it: Hockey is not as popular a sport in Arizona as football, basketball, baseball and arguably a few others.
If you want proof, look no further than the resident NHL team, the Phoenix Coyotes, who until recently, were embroiled in an ownership controversy that nearly forced them to leave the state.
Personally, I wasn’t that much of a hockey fan until just a few years ago. But now, like many, I am sucked in to the unique thrill that is being a fan of the sport.
And on Saturday night, I got to experience that thrill firsthand.
Granted, any sporting event against UA is likely to attract a bigger, more invested crowd than any other game, but sitting in the crowd watching the Sun Devils bang six goals into the back of the net was a great fan experience.
While you might not expect it for an arguably less popular sport, the crowd was loud, intrigued and involved from the drop of the puck to the final horn.
It helps that fans were watching one of the most talented teams in the country, one that has scored 44 goals in its first five games this year.
It’s never hard to cheer on a team that’s lighting the lamp that many times, but regardless, it was fun to be a part of it.
A fledgling hockey fan myself, I’ve always found the fan experience at hockey games to be uniquely exciting. It stands apart from sitting in the bleachers at Wells Fargo Arena or Sun Devil Stadium.
Maybe it’s the slight chill in the air rather than the sometimes oppressive heat you find watching the football team play. Maybe it’s the inherent violence to hockey that could break out at any moment in a way that’s more overt than in football.
Who can say what it really is, but I know I have never failed to be disappointed by a hockey crowd in my limited exposure to the sport.
Earlier this year I wrote about how fans shouldn’t forget about the other sports in action this fall. I stand by that. Football will always be the most popular, but teams like women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and men’s hockey have been just as good this season.
While I urge all fans to check out all the teams in action, I would say that seeing a hockey game in person should be on every Sun Devil’s to-do list this fall.
Because it’s more than just what’s happening on the ice.
For me, the best sports experiences are when the excitement of the game goes beyond just the action on the field. Memorable fan experiences often come from games that weren’t the best or the most exciting.
I can’t say why it is so exciting to watch a hockey game in person. I cannot say why packing in at Oceanside Ice Arena and feeling the place buzz with excitement is one of my top ASU sports experiences thus far in 2013, but I can say that everyone should check it out.
If you’re not a hockey fan, if you’re an avid one or if your fan-hood settles squarely in the middle, like mine, still try to make it out to the game.
Do it to support our ASU athletics but also do it to experience the “hockey vibe,” as I like to call it. It is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Reach the columnist as email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ICBeck21