Oil Kings

Is it game? Or match? Or maybe meet? I have no idea. It was Fan Appreciation Night at Rexall Place, which is where the Edmonton Oilers play their home games. It is games, I think. We did not see them. We watched a WHL junior game. The Oil Kings versus the Rebels, who are from Red Deer. Both teams are just about dead last in their division and when we left, after the second period (it’s period, right?) because Katy was getting tired and it was late, the Oil Kings were winning 4 to 1. That’s goals. I do know that. But not much more.


My husband, Rob, has played hockey nearly all his life, and my late husband, Will, was nearly as interested in hockey as he was in NFL football, but even with their combined instruction so far – I still can’t make heads or tails of the game. Why is some body slamming against the wall (or is it boards?) okay and other times it elicits a time-out (that’s a penalty and you sit in a box for it)? I don’t know and neither does anyone else because when I ask, I get the “it all depends” speech, which leaves me as unenlightened as ever. 


Katy thoroughly enjoyed herself. She got to have popcorn and a Coke. She is almost never allowed pop (it’s pop up here not soda) and that in itself is noteworthy. There was plenty of extraneous activity to keep even the marginally interested spectator engaged. Things like the usual t-shirt giveaway every 10 minutes or so, and some blond toothy twenty-something who kept popping up on the big screen above the ice to yammer at the crowd about prizes and giveaways and contests whenever eager young people in the employ of the arena were not hurling things at the spectators. I asked Rob if he recognized the young man. Was he a local celebrity? TV or radio? Only to be reminded by my husband that we don’t watch TV. Right. Hard to keep up on the local talking heads when you listen to XM exclusively and read the newspaper to find things out about the world – mostly beyond Alberta because if you only watched the local TV stations for news, you might wonder if the rest of the world had been destroyed in some geological disaster or nuclear accident that we didn’t hear about here because, well, it didn’t happen in Alberta.


Unlike the last hockey….thing….I attended with Will about eight or nine years ago this one flew by, but mainly because I was sitting next to Katy. She had many questions about the goings on. Most of them I couldn’t answer with any degree of accuracy, but she appeared to be fine with that. She was very concerned about the officials’ safety and well being.  Probably something to do with their decided lack of protective gear. She also seemed a bit worried about the players who jumped over the wall onto the ice instead of using the door.  She wondered about the coaches and decided that she didn’t want to be a hockey player herself because I mistakenly referred to the intermissions between periods, as “time-outs” and she didn’t like to be timed out.


As we were leaving, I became aware that my boots were glued to the floor by some congealed liquid. Pop, no doubt but aside from this, the arena was remarkably clean. Even the washroom. If you know me, you know that I have an aversion to public washrooms due to their general state of disgustingness. The washrooms at Rexall Place have that worn out look that much of Canada’s public areas do but it was clean. There was even a washroom attendant to mop up the sink area which, if you watch Oprah at all, you know is just a cesspool of germs that makes sitting on the toilet seat about the cleanest thing a person can do in a washroom.


Katy acquired an Oil Kings flag in the gift shop on the way out and wheedled unsuccessfully for a jersey (I would have liked a t-shirt myself), and we emerged from the arena to find it was still snowing as hard as it had been when we arrived. Winter is cruel. Parking lots and sidewalks have been snow free and dry since early in the week and spring threatened. And so, it follows that snow must fall. It is only mid-March and this is Canada – as I am reminded often when I read about the warming and melting back in Iowa.


Katy is excited about her next hockey game. She has a flag to wave now and knows that if she wants something free thrown at her, she must stand up and wave or dance for the webcam like the little boy that the perky talking head spoke to at one point in his give-away madness. The boy looked about eight or nine and would dance suggestively on demand much to the delight of the crowd. Rob remarked that the kid would be much in demand by the ladies someday, provided that he was playing on that team.


I think a hockey game here and there would make a nice family outing. Like hiking  and camping, it is a Canadian thing to do and we are fast forgetting our American ways in favor of our new home.