Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Hockey Night in Saugeen Shores

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Thwaack!

That’s the first thing you hear when you step into the chill of the rink.

Pucks whacked into boards. Bouncing off posts. Crashing against safety glass. The scrunch, scrunch, scrunch of skates on freshly Zambonied ice and the yells of hockey players warming up, mixed with top forty tunes from the 70’s and 80’s blasting from loudspeakers.                 

This is it…hockey night at the Plex in Port Elgin. People from “Port” and “South” (Southampton) as the locals call the two towns, are there. Folks from the other towns in Saugeen Shores help fill the bleachers. There’s a bus in the parking lot so the Visitors probably brought some fans as well. Thing is the seats are only on one side. Sometimes we cram upwards of 700 people into the place. Small town arenas can’t afford to build big like the ACC.                 

Where I was, there were corporate boxes. Where I am, there’s a glass-fronted bar called ‘The Hawk’s Nest’ upstairs at the far end of the rink. There are no servers bringing you your drinks. You line up to buy tickets. Then you line up at the bar. Its a good place to thaw out from the chill of the rink between periods. Lots of people hang out there because you can watch the game without freezing.                 

Our game announcer is from the local radio station. We have a 50-50 draw. On a good night you can win six or seven hundred dollars. It gets loud in there because the fans are happy to have a team that wins. The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks have only lost three games, which puts them on top in their division.

This is Senior Men’s Hockey and it is good hockey. The team is made up of  guys who played Junior and College mostly. They’re fast, tough, know how to win and they’re not millionaires because they have day jobs.                 

Where I was, seats to a Leafs game were hard to come by. You either got them for yourself or clients as comps, paid a scalper, or lucked into the benevolence of someone with season or corporate tickets. Where I am, admission is $5.00…$4.00 if you’re a Senior. Kids pay even less. And the seats are all the same colour…natural wood.                 

Where I am, The Winterhawks give the locals a lot to make noise about. Where I was, the citizens of ‘Leaf Nation’ are still longing for Lord Stanley’s Cup.        

As I sit on my blanket on the plank benches I realize that’s its a satisfying feeling to yell yourself hoarse for a winning team…instead of whining about overpaid losers.                     

 

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

January 7, 2008 at 8:35 PM

Posted in Home Town

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