I received a comment on my last blog that it seems like I don’t spend much time in Russia. I do – I just blog more about my travels than every day experiences here. In that light, I will share my weekend adventure to a Russian hockey game.
Michael and I went to see an ice hockey game. The match was between CSKA (Moscow) and Severstal (Cherepovets). It was the equivalent of an NHL game. There are three professional hockey teams in Moscow. I would describe CSKA as the Mets, whereas Dynamo is like the Yankees, a currently better team, much better attended and better funded! I am not sure where the third team ranks. However, CSKA used to be really good. It is referred to in the West as “Central Red Army” or the “Red Army Team” for its past affiliation with the Soviet Army, popularly known as the Red Army. CSKA Moscow won more Soviet championships and European cups than any other team in history.
The game took place at the CSKA Ice Palace. I don’t think any improvements have been made to the stadium since the times of the USSR. There were very basic items for sale including juice, soda and potato chips. They did not sell beer or vodka – shocking because this is Russia after all. The bathrooms were in the basement and I was scared to go because I convinced myself they were squat toilets instead of real toilets. I did not go to verify my theory though. The stadium only seats about 5,000 people and was about 50% empty.
The game itself was very good. I have never been into ice hockey, but it is a fast moving, quick sport. The crowd was very enthusiastic and very well behaved. They were cheering the whole time and there was no trash talking. Maybe that is the influence of having an alcohol free game. There were three cheerleaders who Michael surmised were instructed not to smile. They moved their hands and didn’t seem to change their motions if the radio was playing a song or a commercial. They must have been paying attention to the game though, because they turned their backs when the other team scored.
One of the more amusing points of the game was during timeouts or breaks several pairs of men and women skated out onto the ice. Each man was carrying an ice scraper and the woman, who was actually probably a 13-year old girl, was carrying a bucket. He would scrape a few flakes of ice and she would wave at the audience and then carry the bucket back. I was not quite sure the point of the exercise. At one point, one of the players was injured and was gushing blood. Following that, the game was paused and just the man came out to scrape the blood from the ice.
The home team won in overtime. I will definitely be checking out another ice hockey game!
See pictures below from the game!
From Russia with Love,