Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ice Sport in Koeln

Doc sent me a note while I was on vacation suggesting I do some research on curling rinks. This struck me as a great idea, but arrived unfortunately just as I was leaving the Scottish Borders, where I had already noticed flyers posted inviting people to join local curling clubs (after all, the Scottish Borders are in Scotland, the origin of the sport).
So while in Koeln I did a little research and discovered that there are curling clubs near there, but the two closest were located 40 kilometers or so distant, so I did not choose to check them out.
But on a standard sightseeing tour of the city, I noticed from the bus as it drove by the Koeln Arena (a very striking building) that the Koeln Haie (Cologne Sharks) were playing against Dusseldorf (who have regrettably named their team 'The Metro Stars') that evening. And so I decided to go to the match.
I think I have seen about three professional hockey matches in my life. The earlier ones all featured teams called 'Seals' (if I recall correctly, 'Golden Seals'). Water animals are a suitable theme for a sport played on ice.
First observation was that their Zamboni was a Toyota - I have never noticed what the Toronto Zambonis are. Hmmm.

I apologize for the lack of focus but the local team seemed to have two mascots, one clearly meant to be a shark, and the other apparently a crocodile. The crocodile may be a reference to another Koeln sports team. (The American Football team are the Crocodiles.)

Here is a pre-game shot of the stands at my end of the arena.

Note the fans in sweaters, with names of the stars, Ludemann and Julien. The latter is surely a Canadian, and it seems they are allowed about a half dozen Canadians.
For some reason the fans were waving signs with the number 80 on it - I still have no idea what that was about - some commenter please help!

As for the game, well it looked like the odd bits of hockey I occasionally see on TV.
But it also looked really different - my guess is they play European or International rules over here, and what struck me is how fast (yeah - the TV to live comparison is always that but this is not what I mean) the game was, and how little hitting there was.
The play was really exciting - Koeln opened with a goal in the first couple of minutes, Dusseldorf responded within a minute. This happened again a few minutes later. Play simply roared back and forth from end to end, totally unlike my experience of watching the little NHL I watch on TV.
Typical play situations are the same.

Attendance was 14,000 or so! The fan behavior was an amusing mix of North American and Euro soccer - the sections behind the goals were clearly intended to be noise-makers and they were!
I had a pretty good seat and one thing that really struck me was how many women attended - there were lots!

Sadly this is roughly how the game ended.


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