Up until a trip to Murrayfield ice rink last year, I had absolutely no idea that Edinburgh had an ice hockey team – even less that they play every week against teams from several other UK towns and cities. In the Elite League, the Cardiff Devils are currently on top with 36 wins; the Edinburgh Capitals, on the other hand, have a stable position at number 12. That is out of 12. So far this year, the Capitals have won a total of five matches – Milton Keynes Lightning, the second lowest scorer, having won 18.
Faced with these prospects, things didn’t bode well for my first ice hockey experience.
However, it turns out that statistics aren’t everything. The ice was broken by the welcoming of a mascot to the rink – it turns out that the gear that just makes hockey players look scary does in fact increase cuteness tenfold on children under ten.
This match was between the Capitals and the Dundee Stars, who are tenth in the league. Despite the Capitals’ slow start, failing to secure an early goal to the sighs of their supporters, play soon picked up; the Stars secured the first goal of the match, soon followed by a goal from the Capitals celebrated by two impressive, if shivering cheerleaders. This point was particularly interesting to me – according to Drew, the actual beat reporter who accompanied me to the match, they don’t have cheerleaders at ice hockey games in the US and Canada. I. Wonder. Why.
Immediately afterwards, the Capitals adopted a newfound confidence. However, their luck was not to last, as the Stars began to score goal after goal. It was truly heart-breaking to see their goalkeeper’s reaction after each goal he let in. Somehow, I had become emotionally invested.
By the end of the second period, the Capitals were well and truly riled up. After nearly an hour of awkward and oddly intimate upright tackles with competing players hurling into walls together like lovestruck teenagers, tensions between the frustrated Capitals and the increasingly cocky Stars led to a full-on fist fight between two opposition players.
It’s only really when you see it in action, that you realise these men are literally equipped with lethal weapons in their hands and on their feet. After this revelation, I really started paying attention.
In the third period, a second fight broke out, which this time I managed to video. Gloves were flung to the floor, fellow players intervened and spectators cheered a bloodthirsty cry which half concerned me and half made me want to join in. It was exhilarating.
Altogether, the game brought together ice, elegance and aggression in a way I have only seen matched in I, Tonya – release an on-ice adaptation and I’m convinced you would be unable to tell the difference. While we did go on to lose 9-4, it was still a pretty wild ride. Would recommend.
Image Courtesy of Edinburgh Capitals