How to Hockey: The Transplant's Guide to Embracing St. Louis’ Chilliest Sport

 In Culture

’Tis the season for cold weather, snowy winds and of course, ice. Hockey is winter sports’ claim to fame, and with the Blues hitting their groove this season, it’s the perfect time to bundle up for a game. If you’re born here or come from a similarly hockey-obsessed city, you’re in luck, but for transplants expecting the temperature to rise when you step into the arena …well, read on for a guide on how to embrace St. Louis’ chilliest sport (maybe as prep for the Blues’ home game tomorrow night?).

Vladimir Tarasenko.  Photo by Scott Rovak, courtesy of the St. Louis Blues.

Vladimir Tarasenko.
Photo by Scott Rovak, courtesy of the St. Louis Blues.

Why hockey: It’s not your typical football, baseball or basketball experience. The sounds of skates gliding and sticks slapping ring throughout the rink, and chances are you’ll witness a fight or two.

But what’s the real attraction? Answer: the men. Not only are hockey players among the toughest athletes by far, but they also possess incredible athletic abilities ranging from agility to speed to sharp movements. Let’s be honest: Few can look that smooth while pushing a puck on frozen water.

What to know: If you are a first-timer, you should probably know the basics. Hockey has three 20-minute periods. Fouls are not a thing, but penalties are. Lingo to be aware of includes faceoff, cross-checking, slashing and offsides. Substitutions occur fluidly, with each team having six players on the ice at once including goalies (the ones looking like the Michelin Man).

What to wear: Let’s start with the colors: St. Louis means you’re sporting the blue and gold. For the ladies, throw on your favorite jersey number over a long-sleeve shirt with some leggings and boots, and you’re good to go. For guys, jersey and jeans, and you’ll be set. No jersey? No problem. A sweater/scarf combo will do just fine as long as the colors are still in check. Perhaps the most important piece to your wardrobe is gloves to hold your cold beverage.

What to drink: Speaking of “cold beverages,” what really matters isn’t what you’re wearing—it’s what you’re drinking. And here in STL, we drink local. You can’t go wrong with any Anheuser-Busch products: straight Bud, Bud Select, Bud light. If you’re feeling seasonal or not a beer-drinker, try a hard cider like Angry Orchard (still in the AB family obviously). Fun fact for pre-gaming: several Soulard bars have free shuttles to and from the game, so there’s no cap on the festivities beforehand.

Who to watch: Vladimir Tarasenko (our February cover man) is on fire right now. He’s the team’s top scorer and is getting serious league attention for his smarts.

What to yell: If you’ve got enough booze running through your bloodstream, feel free to let some of that built-up tension out in the manner of die-hard fans’ vocalizations.

Suggestions: “GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLL!” (not for the other team), “FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!” and last but not least, in unison: “LET’S GO BLUES!”

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