Traditional Hockey Talk Around Christmas

Before I head over to my Mom’s place for the traditional Christmas family gathering, I felt the need to write about hockey. Like I seem to have been doing often enough around Christmas / end of the year on this blog or previous versions of this blog.

Over the last few years it seems to have become a Christmas tradition to watch a hockey game of the Iserlohn Roosters (the hockey team located closest to our home town) on one of the days before Christmas or on one of the holidays, depending on the season’s schedule. Even though I’m a fan of the Cologne Sharks foremost, I also always want Iserlohn to do well (except when they’re playing against Cologne, of course). Because half my family are Iserlohn fans, because of regional solidarity and because of the nice group of Iserlohn fans I’ve met through my brother. We’ve been to several world championships together and it always has been a lot of fun.
Another incentive for me as a Cologne Sharks fan to watch the game last night, was that Iserlohn played against the Metro Stars from Düsseldorf. Cologne and Düsseldorf are bound in a love-hate-relationship (in the tongue-in-cheek “we love to hate them” kind of way) not just in sports, but also a lof of other things. So for a Cologne fan it’s always nice to cheer for a team that’s playing against Düsseldorf :-) Unfortunately Düsseldorf won the game last night, but we had a lot of fun regardless.

Part of fun yesterday was to watch the 4 year old boy sitting in front of us with his 6 year old brother and his parents. I think it might have been his first hockey game and his parents didn’t look like they were die-hard hockey fans or hockey fans at all. But the little boy was definitely on the way of turning into one ;-) It seemed like it took him a while to make sense of all that was going on around him but in the end he was singing and dancing and cheering along. He was cussing when the referee made a bad call (and the dad immediately covered the little boy’s mouth with his hand) and he was commenting on the game like a pro (or at least he was trying to LOL). It was sooooo cute to watch. Well, let’s face it little kids being sports fans are always cute to watch, and it’s even easier to tug at my heart strings when it’s happening at a hockey game.

Talking about “tugging at heart strings”: The new (starting this season) pre-game activities in Iserlohn are one of my favourites, because they always almost make me cry , but in a good way ;-) In the big arenas like in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, they usually play a special clip on the video screen to get the audience to start singing and cheering and ready for the big game that’s about to follow. Iserlohn is a small club with a small budget and a small arena. They don’t have video screen. (It’s old fashioned traditional hockey atmoshpere, even though they’ve joined the premiere league 10 years or so ago *g*).
Since the start of this season the pre-game ritual goes like this: A few guys enter the ice carrying the different large team flags from over 50 years of hockey history in this town. A young boy carrying a smaller flag then skates a wide loop ending at center ice, setting down the flag (like the kid at 0.45 in the clip below), raising his fist and shouting “Iserlohn Roosters!” All that while the audience is enthusiatically singing along to a special song heared over the speakers.
I’ve seen this happen a few times this year and was always moved, because of this enthusiastic kid on the ice and because of the anthem-like song, which I had never heard before and of which I unfortunately only ever grabbed a few words and not the complete lyrics. After the game last night I finally managed to ask one of the guys I know, what song that is, and another bystander could answer it right away.

It’s the Minnesota Wild anthem: “The State of Hockey” and I bow my head in admiration and gratidude (and a bit of jealousy) to the Minnesota Wild, who – according to their NHL site – “composed the Wild Anthem before the start of the inaugural season [in 2000]. In the State of Hockey, where hockey tradition runs deep, it seemed logical to write lyrics (accompanied by energetic, Celtic-flavored music) that symbolized all of the elements of Minnesota’s rich hockey heritage.

How can you be a hockey fan and not be touched by this anthem? How can you be a sports fan and not be touched by this anthem ? And how could I have not discovered this song before … :-) ?

“The State of Hockey”

We were raised
With the stick
And a pair of blades
On the ice we cut our teeth
We took our knocks
In the penalty box
Our mother was the referee

This sport was here
Before we came
It will be here when we’re gone
The game’s in our blood
And our blood’s in the game
Lay us down under
A frozen pond

We will fight to the end
We will stand and defend
Our flag flying high and free
We were born the child
Of the strong and Wild
In the State, the State of Hockey

A big blue line runs around our state
A line that can’t be crossed
The day they try to take this game
Is the day the gloves come off

We will fight to the end
We will stand and defend
Our flag flying high and free
We were born the child
Of the strong and Wild
In the State, the State of Hockey.

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