I am at a party. The jangle of Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” rattles the house, a steady thump thump thump pulsing against the kitchen floor. Every now and then, a head pokes around the corner in search of the bathroom or a stack of pizzas or alcohol squirreled away in the cupboards.
“Oh, the Canucks?” My friend strolls through the kitchen, crossing in front of the TV where I’ve stationed myself for the evening. “They’ll win. Guaranteed.”
My burgeoning team pride flares. It’s the first period. The Ducks are knotted at 2-2 with the Canucks. I make an ill-advised beer bet. My friend leaves with a smirk on his face.
Hockey is breathless. The puck skitters from skater to skater so sharply that I barely have time to check jersey numbers or scribble in my notebook. My thoughts, likewise, are jumbled. Those are boards! I remind myself. That’s a face-off spot! Is that icing? Is that icing? Oh, that’s how you pronounce ‘Selänne.’
Sometimes, it’s a good thing I don’t watch sports around other people.
In the second period, Anaheim stockpiles goals as if salvaging an overtime shootout. I lean forward in my chair. My heart is pounding, even with a cushion of three goals. “Come on,” I mutter as Selänne darts toward the net. It occurs to me that, short of unnecessary profanities, I have no idea what to say. Pass? Shoot? Skate fast?
Nothing seems appropriate, so I settle back in my chair. Teemu nabs the Ducks’ sixth goal with 14 seconds left on the clock. Looks like he didn’t need my help after all.
Even now, baseball permeates my understanding of hockey. Kyle Palmieri’s #51 invokes memories of Ichiro’s career in Seattle. I nearly tweet how many runs the Ducks have driven in. The broadcasters total Jonas Hiller’s saves at 26, and I giggle because that is over half of what the Mariners amassed in 2012.
Vancouver goes quietly in the third, slipping the puck past Hiller for their third and final goal of the night. Teemu answers with another shot, securing Anaheim’s lead, his reputation as one of the best in the game (at 42 years old, no less), and my affection. The camera pans to disgruntled Canucks fans in the stands.
I close my notebook and push back my chair as the final score flashes on the screen: Ducks 7, Canucks 3. It has been the warmest of welcomes from Anaheim, but for now, I have a beer bet to collect.