Being a hockey fan can be a number of things: rewarding, frustrating, heart-wrenching, anxiety-inducing…hell it can even bring out anger issues you never knew you had – but most of all it’s fun.
You can connect with so many people whether you’re at a game, via Twitter or talking to people while you’re out watching the game.
But being a female hockey fan lately has been an exhausting struggle. It doesn’t take anyone long to figure out that I live and breathe Boston sports – especially baseball and hockey.
I have such an appreciation for both sports and obviously for the Red Sox and Bruins – it’s been that way since I was a kid. My earliest memories are going to Fenway Park in the early 90’s to watch Mo Vaughn and Pedro Martinez play.
I spent a lot of time watching the Worcester Ice Cats at the then Worcester Centrum and watched close to every Bruins game on TV.
I grew up playing NHL on the original PlayStation with Patrick Roy and Adam Foote on my team. I had a Colorado Avalanche starter jacket that was handed down to me from my older brother.
I watched my brothers deck hockey games and practices growing up and I played goalie (full pads and all) for him when he needed someone.
I’m also Canadian – so hockey is naturally in my blood.
But thanks to the lovely puck bunnies and pink hats of the world, a lot of long-time and true female fans get lumped into that crowd as well.
It’s a serious struggle. I remember wearing my Milan Lucic jersey to a game and got a lot of comments along the lines of, “Can you name any other players?” or, “You only have his jersey because you think he’s hot.”
Sure, I can name other players. Which line would you like? And for his jersey? It was a present from my brother for my 21st birthday – but even if it was my choice, I still would have bought a Lucic jersey.
I can sit here and explain to you what icing is, why that penalty called was a slash or a hook. I’ll tell you what a beautiful wrist shot that was or how Zdeno Chara just sent a rocket into the net from the circle.
I can’t tell you what goaltender interference is because the NHL can’t even do that.
The point is, it’s very easy to pick out a puck bunny in the crowd because she’s likely on her phone the entire game playing with Snapchat filters, taking selfies with her friends or boyfriend or googling how long a typical hockey game is.
I know there are men out there too who are at these games with absolutely zero clue what’s going on, but no one will really ever think to stop and “quiz” them on their knowledge.
I just want to go to games, drink a beer and yell and cheer for my team whether that’s at the Garden, the Fours or the comfort of my own couch. I don’t need to be questioned about my knowledge of the team because of my apparel – whether it’s a certain players jersey or a simple hoodie.
Ask me who my favorite player is and I’ll ask you simple questions right back: on the Bruins? In the entire NHL? Current or retired?
I’ll talk hockey all day. But not because you’re questioning my fandom – but because I want to talk about it. I grew up watching Cam Neely. I sat through lockouts and terrible, no-good Bruins seasons.
I’ll have conversations with you about Tuukka Rask and if he’s an elite goalie, why Brad Marchand will never be in the MVP conversation and why the Tyler Seguin trade will continually come back to haunt them (and it’s not because he’s like, so cute).
Let’s talk about Joe Thornton or how if Marc Savard would have helped the team in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals.
Let’s talk about how great Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Lundqvist are and how they’ll likely never get the recognition they truly deserve due to them never winning a cup.
Let’s talk hockey. But don’t question my (or any other female fans) loyalty just because you don’t think we’re “real” fans. We may even teach you a thing or two about the game.
-Lauren Campbell (@lalalalaurrrren)