A Fun Few Hours with the Furies

Monday February 17, 2014

So far, 2014 has been busier than my blog would make it seem. But I guess that can be the trouble with blogs - the more life that happens, the less time you have to spend writing about said life.

Anyway, although there are lots of bigger stories to catch up on, today's post is about one of the smaller adventures Steve and I had this weekend:

This photo is from a Canadian Women's Hockey League game that took place on Sunday afternoon - the Toronto Furies versus the Montreal Stars.

I know that for many people going to a hockey game isn't much of an adventure, but Steve and I don't pay any attention to sports, so for us this was a big change of pace. The last time we went to anything like this was when we took in a few Toronto Roller Derby games years ago, before the league moved bouts out to Downsview Park. This weekend's outing only happened because we were handed a two-for-one CWHL coupon during the local Santa Claus Parade. Before that, we had no idea that the Toronto Furies played in our neighbourhood (or even existed, frankly).

When I explored the CWHL website, I learned that Montreal is currently the top-ranked team and Toronto is second, so I figured this match-up would be a good time for us to use our coupon. Still, I wasn't sure how much we'd enjoy the game, especially since we didn't have a personal connection with any of the players. Even though Steve happily agreed to go when I suggested it, I made sure to mention that we could leave any time he wanted.

While I obviously hoped we were going to have a good time, part of me was expecting the experience to fall more into the category of "filling the well" - a writer/artist phrase that refers to choosing to read, watch, and do new and different things so as to have more fodder for future projects. To that end, I did pull out a notebook before the game even started, which drew a couple of odd, sideways glances (Steve had his notebook too, so at least we were being weird as a team).  I was scrawling some notes about the atmosphere of the arena when the game started... and I promptly forgot to write anything else down.

It was engaging and exciting and downright fun. Steve mentioned how weird it was to watch hockey without a play-by-play, but I liked it better that way. The crowd was small and so wasn't offering up the intensity that I imagine an NHL crowd would, but the small size also meant that we could regularly share eye-contact and smiles with players, refs, and arena staff alike (go Zamboni guy!).  Everyone seemed to be in a good mood, even when we were losing (and lose we did, sadly). Even the vibe at the busy concession stand was laid-back and friendly.

At one point Steve and I got to talking about the players. About the dedication it must take to (presumably) have a regular job and then practice and play on evenings and weekends, sometimes travelling to other cities to do so. The Furies and Stars had played each other the night before, which made the lazy Sunday morning efforts which barely got us to the arena on time seem downright pathetic, considering our Saturday night was spent in.

I found myself telling Steve a few stories from my sports playing days (junior high, mostly). And thinking about it now, I realize I used to be a sports person, at least a little. I had a major Blue Jays phase in my youth (admittedly, a Pat Borders crush helped drive my interest, but I really did enjoy the baseball, too). I also used to watch hockey games with my dad, and I have a wonderful memory of the one time he and I went to a Junior A Lacrosse game together. I now suspect that the sports-aversion I developed in early adulthood was really an aversion to the culture of pro sports, not to the playing of the games themselves.

Although we had late afternoon plans which meant we had to leave before the end of the third period, Steve and I had a great time at the Furies game, and I won't be surprised if we go back again before the season is out, or head to a few next season.

The CWHL also has teams in Boston, Brampton, and Calgary, and the Clarkson Cup is coming up in Markham in March. Learn more at http://cwhl.ca and drop me a line if you decide to head to a Furies home game - after all, we might just see you there.

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