On Friday, January 6th, UBC held it’s 3rd annual Winter Classic hockey matchup between our very own UBC Thunderbirds and the University of Manitoba Bison. While hockey is a large part of Canadian culture, some are more familiar with the sport than others. We attended the game as a hockey fan (KN) and a hockey newbie (KB).
KB: “Aren’t they going to sing ‘O Canada’?”
KN: They did sing O Canada, but after the ceremonial puck drop from some UBC Men’s Hockey alumni.
Photo Credit: Kailynn
KB: Whoever was in charge of giving out the cowbells needed a better distribution plan for their team. We needed more cowbells in the upper rows of our section.
KB: Three seconds in, I realized that watching a game in person means there’s no commentator there to give you a play-by-play of what’s happening. Woops.
KN: The Thunderbirds were down 1-0 by the end of the first period. They didn’t seem to have their legs just yet, but we’d get ‘em next period!
KB: I didn’t even realize that the Bison scored the first goal, but in my defence my friend was distracting me.
KN: Partway through the second period, the penalty minutes continued to climb (as a result of both teams), but the Thunderbirds were able to come back and eventually take the lead after a couple of good power play shifts. It was a four goal period for the T-birds!
KB: “Oh yeah, I totally forgot about the penalty box.”
Photo credit: Kelly
KN: Then there was the second period intermission entertainment. Normally, an intermission game is played between two local Timbits teams (for those that aren’t familiar with hockey culture, Timbits hockey is a minor hockey program for young, Canadian kids that’s supported by Tim Horton’s), but the Winter Classic raised the bar with a five minute period of mascot hockey. A few mascot identities were exposed during the game as three separate mascots lost their heads when things got more heated. At one point they were even playing with LabRat’s head as the puck.
KB: Those last 20 seconds were pretty intense, we could hear the entire arena begin to chant “U-B-C!” as the timer crept closer to 0.
KN: Despite a rough start and a tough third period, wherein the Bison scored a late goal to close the gap, the Thunderbirds were able to keep ahead for the 4-3 win! Let the cowbells hit the ice!
Photo credit: Kailynn
KB: The Winter Classic was actually my first time at a hockey game. I was into hockey when I was younger but kind of lost interest as I got older. I attended the game with low expectations and wanted to enjoy the atmosphere with other students in this fairly new UBC tradition. To my surprise, I became quite invested as the game progressed. I’ll admit, the first period was a bit slow, but once the score tied and the Thunderbirds gained a lead, I found myself just as focused on the game as the hockey fanatics around me. My first game also being a winning home game definitely topped the night! Although I don’t know if I’ll be forking out the money for an NHL game anytime soon, I showed some school spirit and definitely enjoyed myself.
KN: Going into this game I wasn’t expecting all that much, but I was pleasantly surprised by the heated gameplay from both teams. Lest I forget to mention the ridiculous amount of trips to the penalty box for both teams that definitely kept the crowd at the edge of their seats. While I’ve attended too many hockey games in my life to properly count, this game was definitely one I’ll remember. Not only did the Thunderbirds win an exciting game against the Bison, it was also a historical sell out. Exactly 5036 people were in attendance, which is the highest attendance record yet at the Winter Classic!
If you’re a hockey fan, then attending the annual game is a no brainer. And even if you have no idea what a slap shot is, you may end up enjoying the game or other entertainment at the arena. If this year’s game has anything to show, it’s that the UBC Winter Classic is sure to become a long standing tradition! LET’S GO T-BIRDS!