February 17, 2009
Last Wednesday, I went out to watch my boyfriend Matt* play in his ball hockey league. It was the final playoffs for his season. Now as the supporting girlfriend, I go out now and then to sit on the bleachers and watch him and his team (“the replacements”), play for an hour. Usually it’s just me and other players’ girlfriends who sit out there. I confess, I’m not much of a hockey fan (I know, I’m Canadian and I should be ashamed), nor am I really into watching sports, but watching his team play is unexpectedly enjoyable.
Don’t get me wrong, I like sports. I play on a soccer, volleyball and ultimate Frisbee teams (yes, that’s a sport), which are organized by community leagues such as Toronto Central Sport and Social Club (TCSSC) that offer a range of sports leagues for people to join. They are mainly co-ed sports teams and minus soccer, they are usually a lot of fun and laid-back. The soccer league I’m apart of is highly competitive, so there are some exceptions but I don’t think it compares in intensity to what I witness with the men’s ball hockey league.
At first when Matt mentioned he was playing ball hockey, I couldn’t believe the stories he would tell me about what happens in a game and I only understood when I saw him play. The guys in Matt’s league are your average guys within the age group from 18 to 45, who are dedicated to playing once or twice a week. Once the game begins, I see these guys transform and show as much aggression as they ever would in their day-to-day life, playing their hearts out running and diving for the ball. You can tell these guys go out there to win (or kill) and you know they love it. Not only is it great exercise but it’s a great way to make new friends. Matt didn’t know any of his teammates before he joined but after two years playing, his teammates are some of his closest friends. You do have your occasional break out fights but I was told that it isn’t hockey if there’s no violence. However, with York Central Ball Hockey League (YCBHL), which organizes all Matt’s games, they would heavily penalize players if it went too far by having each player pay a penalty fee. YCBHL is a well governed organization that has over 100 teams (with 9-14 men in each team) in about 18 divisions (each division named after a beer brand) playing in North and Central Toronto.
Last night’s game was the best I’ve seen his team play. Matt was at his top form and contributed to his team in assisting the first goal and scoring the second goal. However, they won the game but lost the playoff round. The other team (“The Boysies”) won the first game (Score: 4-2) and the Replacements won the second (5-3) but during the sudden death elimination, the Boysies was able to get in a goal at the last second. The Replacements may have lost but Matt and his teammates are satisfied with how they played yet hungry to prove themselves in the next season.
*Name is fictional