Days before the first of two pre-season games for Belfast against the Manitoba Bisons, Giants fan Stephen Smeeth reflects on the excitement that builds ahead of a new EIHL season.
Every single season without fail I catch a tweet or two “definitely buying a season ticket” or “first season ticket got!”. I won’t lie, it makes me envious as to what is ahead of them to endure for the first time. It’s like someone going to your favourite holiday destination for the first time. I think part of us all would love to be able to enjoy it all over again, like it’s new.
But having said that, something I’m lucky to possess that these ‘new recruits’ don’t have is experience. The experience of game night and post game night when you are hooked.
The nerves start very early doors – in work – and it only intensifies as the day grows. Double header weekend is even stronger. Lose the first game and then night 2 is a must. You have desire, anger and, a step short of actually getting onto the ice, the chance to be the 7th Giant.
I’ve seen us blow away a 3-0 lead in the final period against the Cardiff Devils. That horrendous feeling will never go away. But I’ve seen a league title win in our home barn against the Sheffield Steelers, an equal level of emotion but only rapture and joy. I fight with my other half over lines, goals, wins and losses. Many online tantrums and disagreements, the odd block and mute also thrown in.
When you are hooked it’s not just the game that gets you, it’s the detail. The smell of a Zamboni going over the ice, the smell of fast food. The sounds of 50/50 and shirt of the back sellers. That guy down walking a few feet behind you as you approach your door shouting “Let’s Go Giants”.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give to anyone who is all set for their marriage with hockey and the Belfast Giants:
Embrace every single minute. Please, embrace it. Those game winners that are scored with 20 seconds to go? That high intensity game that is now in overtime? That game that is feisty from the moment the puck drops until the buzzer goes? Enjoy it while you are there. Put your phone down. For it very quickly becomes only a memory.
Stevie got in touch with us to share his thoughts by e-mailing the website. If you’d like to get involved, please just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org . We want to be your platform for Belfast Giants and Hockey opinions.
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(Title Pic: PressEye)