As if going to the games weren’t enough fun, the Tampa Bay Lightning organization has decided that fans might enjoy the games even more if we actually knew more about the game of hockey itself. Fans have been offered several sessions of Hockey University at the Tampa Bay Times Forum with more sessions planned in the coming months.
My husband and I attended Hockey 101 and 201 and thoroughly enjoyed them; everyone learns something, even long-time fans and occasional recreational hockey players. The sessions are led by Dave Andreychuk, former captain of the Stanley Cup winning team and current VP of corporate and community affairs. The sessions are described on the Lightning team’s website:
Welcome to Hockey 101 where Tampa Bay Lightning pros will share lessons ranging from jargon to advance plays in order to help the every day fan and avid player continue to grow and (learn) about the sport of hockey. Go from Hockey 101 to 301 and go from the ranks of player to General Manager as you learn everything there is to know about hockey.
After the 45-minute session, Dave answers such questions from the audience as, “Why do coaches talk to each other holding a paper in front of their mouths; are there lip-reading spies watching?” (Not necessarily; sometimes the coaches are bad-mouthing a player and don’t want anyone to hear them.) “Why are players thrown out of the face-off?” (Because 1) Your name is Tyler Johnson, or 2) the visiting player didn’t put his stick on the ice first, or 3) an infraction was made by another player not in the face-off.) “Who’s the third goalie if the first two are injured during a game and can’t play?” (Anyone on the team who may have ever picked up a goalie stick…there is no real third goalie and the team has to wing it.) Let’s hope it never comes to that, although Victor Hedman‘s name kept popping up as having had some long-ago experience. Hmmm.
My favorite question was, “How come fans call more penalties than the refs do?” Andreychuck got a good chuckle from that one, as did the rest of us. We all looked at each other knowing we have all yelled for calls that never came. The best answer is that it’s a different game actually on the ice than it is in the stands.
There is never enough time to answer all the questions, so after the last session I badgered my friend Tony Styer, a recreational yet experienced hockey player at the Brandon Ice Palace, who tried his best to answer my queries to my satisfaction. (Thanks, TS!) If you don’t have your own personal hockey player to field questions for you, you can also send questions to TampaBayLightning.com/LightningUniversityQuestions.
Keep checking the team website for announcements of upcoming sessions, they are free but you must reserve a seat. You don’t have to take them in order, but even the 101 sessions are entertaining. They are usually before a home game, so you get to come in the Forum early, sit up in the stands and watch the jumbotron as a powerpoint screen. It’s a lot of fun, educational, and another great perk offered for our enjoyment.