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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Janne Niinimaa.Ignore the smoke, and the badly dressed figure emerging from a giant star - it's not an episode of 'Stars in Their Eyes', this is actually a shot taken from last night's ice hockey game between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators. Not a shot taken by me, obviously, because we were in the cheap seats about half a mile from the ice, with grandstand views of the tops of twelve men's heads, but I have it on good authority that this is none other than Janne Niinimaa, ice hockey player extraordinaire, and a man with more vowels than he knows what to do with.

Of course, cheap seats didn't actually matter, because this game was played at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, which apparently has "more digital signs than any other sports and entertainment center". So we had a pretty good view of all the adverts.

Anyhoo, this was my first experience of American ice hockey, and naturally I couldn't be expected to know which team was likely to win. So before leaving, I went online and put five quid on the draw. I stood to win £17.50, which spookily enough was the price of my ticket, so I knew it was written in the (Dallas) stars that I'd come away victorious. Particularly when it was still 1-1 at the end of the second period. And I would have won too, were it not for some scandalous refereeing decisions. Frankly it should be illegal to award a goal to the home team with nine tenths of a second left on the clock. I nearly choked on my pizza.

But anyway, highlights of the evening included:

  • Having to tell my sister that the song being sung at the start of the game was the American national anthem. She's only lived in the country for three years. And to be honest, I still don't think she believed me when I told her it's called 'The Star Spangled Banner'.
  • Nearly jumping out of my skin when 30,000 people shouted "Stars!" every time the word 'star' cropped up in the national anthem.
  • Trying to alert Big Sis and Lisa to the fact that we were on the big screen in front of said 30,000 people, only to find them engrossed in my last blog post on Sis's handheld PC.
  • Being the only person in the arena who celebrated when Dallas had a goal disallowed.
  • Finding out that punch-ups between players are accompanied by jaunty music over the PA.
  • Sis using her handheld PC to look up the rules of ice hockey, and informing us halfway through the game that when the puck goes in the net, it's a goal.
  • Recouping £1 of my £5 loss by betting Lisa that there are only three periods in an ice hockey game. She was "one hundred per cent certain" there are four.
  • Getting a voucher for a free taco, only to be told by Sis that she wouldn't allow me to eat it in her car, her house, her pool, or basically within a hundred miles of her.

So all in all it was a good night out. A bit of music, some fisticuffs, two pizzas, some gambling, and three hours of ice skating, all accompanied by one constant question from my companions:

"What's going on?"

You can't ask for much more than that.