A year in Russia

“I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out”

After Sunday’s dalliance in ice skating, Monday brought my first ever trip to the ice hockey.

Before the match, the national anthem was played on loudspeaker inside and outside the rink.

Before the match, the national anthem was played on loudspeaker inside and outside the rink.

For a mere 100 roubles (£2), I watched a match in the ‘Major Hockey League’ (Высшая хоккейная лига (ВХЛ)) which is the second highest level in Russian professional hockey. £2 to watch Buran Voronezh literally beat Rubin Tyumen.

Ice hockey is a difficult game to watch; the puck moves so fast and I was torn between watching the players or just attempting to follow the puck. If I concentrated solely on the puck, I would suddenly notice a player in the sinbin and have no idea what he had done to get there; if I concentrated on the players however, I missed goals.

Going into ice hockey with absolutely no prior knowledge was interesting. For instance, did you know that there are three periods of twenty minutes play which are seemingly spread out across three hours. No, me neither.

Commentary on the game

Each interval and the entire stadium emptied for a cigarette break

Each interval and the entire stadium emptied for a cigarette break

At the end of a relatively dull first period, Buran and Rubin were tied 2-2 leading to a very tense second period where tempers really heated up. The entire crowd were supporting Buran Voronezh- the home team- as to travel here from Tyumen (Siberia) would have taken about a week on the train for their fans, so in terms of motivational cheering and jeering Rubin were already the underdog.

Going into the second period, Buran were feeling the pressure as Rubin quickly scored twice more leading one man near me to ask Buran ‘are you girls or boys?’. This insult* clearly moved Buran to action, as while there had already been one or two shoves earlier in the match, now the playing descended into an all-out brawl. Gloves were off, a few helmets too, and while the three refs were busy calming the main group of players down, two players had gone off to the side and much to the entertainment of the crowd, a Buran player got a Rubin player into a headlock and pounded away with his fist. Poor guy left the ice with a nasty gash on his head.

Riot on ice; the two on the left were the main offenders!

Riot on ice; the two on the left were the main offenders!

Buran and Rubin each had two players sinbinned, but the Buran player was applauded by the crowd with chants of ‘well done’. Brutal.

Going into the third period, still 2-4 to Rubin, Buran’s coach must have given an amazing pep talk, as they came out and completely turned the game around scoring 3 times to win the match! We all went away as happy as larry with a home win.

My only slight niggle is that perhaps 3 hours is rather too long for a match to take. The actual play time is 60 minutes, so thats only 20 minutes play per hour. I know it takes time with penalties and it is a high energy game so they need more substitutions and breaks so I understand why/how it does end up taking so long but still. I really did enjoy the match and overall experience, but I don’t think I’ll be attending every match held in Voronezh no matter how cheap the tickets are. I’ll definitely try to attend a couple though.

*I am pained to call this an insult, as I thoroughly believe being called a girl shouldn’t be code for being weak or even derogatory at all.

Interesting notes:

-when a goaly ends up spread-eagled on his back in the line of duty, this is called a ‘черепаха’ or turtle.

-although bloody thirsty, a Russian sports crowd still remembers their manners. If you’re blocking someone’s view, they politely suggest you sit or otherwise move never forgetting ‘пожалуйста’ (please). I was quite impressed.

If you wish to watch the match (for the fight skip to 1:36:25):

Featured image copyright Jenny Vincent.


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This entry was posted on 22 October, 2013 by in Journal and tagged , , , .
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