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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Локомотив

Yesterday a bunch of us went to see Yaroslavl's hockey team Локомотив (locomotive) play against one of Moscow's best teams, Динамо (Dinamo). I'm not sure where to start.

Apparently not last year, but the two immediately preceding years locomotive won the russian hockey league championships, so the team has a pretty serious following. The big rivalry is with Moscow teams especially with Dinamo, which had a significant contingent of fans who traveled four hours to see the match. So from the start we knew that it would be an exciting day, even if the hockey was lousy.

The bad news first: locomotive lost 2-0, but there were some lousy calls, and at least two "loco" goals called back - the match was pretty even. Anyway, the hockey was very good, and i'm not in much of a position to comment on it specifically because i don't know american hockey that well. They seemed to call rather a lot of penalties though, and when they fell over they sat around on the ice and looked around like american basketball players do after the slightest contact. Also there weren't any fights, which i guess they must go out of their way to avoid with rivalry matches where it could spill out into the stadium or streets...

I guess the biggest surprise of the night was the stadium - it was brand new, and easily one of the nicest hockey rinks i've seen anywhere. It was tremendously clean and comfortable, and actually had an almost family sort of atmosphere. I say almost...there was a squad of girls dancing most of the night behind one of the goals and, well, the fans were considerably more loud and vulgar than anything you can really hear anywhere in america. but, then, you get that on the bus ride over too. all said and done, it was a great experience for about 150 rubles (including transportation over and back) which is about $6. and we had really great seats. so it's definitely something i'll be doing again, and next time i'm going to bring my camera since everything was relatively calm.

also another interesting phenomenon: at the end of each period (and literally not a second earlier) somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of the spectators stood up and started filing out for concessions/bathroom/et cetera. almost no one left their seats during the actual match, and even at the very end when dinamo was up 2-0 only a handful of people were leaving. So that's an idea of the fanatics who were in the stands - this was only the 2nd or 3rd match of the year i think.

so that's about it for now. i wish i'd written this post after the game, i feel like i had a lot more i wanted to say then. no matter, there will be more hockey soon.