Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hockey, Swiss Style

Being ice hockey fans for years, we decided it was about time we went to a local game. There is a Swiss professional league like the NHL, but since this is a small country, the travel is much less extensive. We went to see the Zurich Lions play the Kloten Flyers (and yes, the team names are in English). It was an away game for Zurich, but Kloten is where Zurich airport is - obviously not very far away. We made the right decision to take public transportation. Parking was definitely limited.

The arena was surprisingly small and was closer in size to the arena at Northeastern University than one used in the NHL. Concrete walls in the lobby area were definitely not on par with "The Rock" in Newark.

even the Zamboni was smaller
wooden floor!

very big steps - I felt like a kid trying to climb stairs

These stairs are really steep and have no hand rails. They are also very big steps. I felt like a toddler trying to climb stairs. Definitely wouldn't pass an American safety inspection. Our seats were in the front row because that's all that was available when we decided to go. There was no netting above the glass where we were so that was a little nerve-wracking. Also, there was no rail in front of us. We could just step off - and drop down four feet or so! No jumping up after a goal. It would have been too easy to fall off.

you know him - see the drop off right in front of his feet                              

Upon arrival, all seats had a piece of white cardboard with advertisements. We learned the intent was for them to be folded like an accordion (see under Tom). When you smack that on your hand or a chair, it makes a very loud sound. There were moments when I wished I'd brought ear plugs. The crowd cheered (and used their noisemakers) nearly the whole game. They only quieted down for a bit when Zurich scored the fourth consecutive goal after the home team had scored the first two. One section of fans had someone with a bull horn leading cheers. They didn't even stop when music came over the loudspeaker. Never lost a beat. It was much louder than the Rock during normal play. 

The uniforms are covered with advertising. Notice the golden arches on the calves!  Each team's high scorer wore a yellow helmet and jersey. No one could say they lost track of him!

team gathered together before game started

Zurich Insurance, Tom's employer, is a league sponsor

both high scorers on the ice

high scorers against each other was common

final score - we win!
handshake after the game - this only happens at the end of a playoff series in the NHL
Before the game and during the intermissions, there were refreshments available for sale in the lobby. They had the normal choices and more alcohol options.  We opted for gl├╝hwein since it was colder inside than we expected and we were chilly. I didn't feel comfortable taking a picture of the group standing around a small round table. Their glasses stood on the table: beer, prosecco (champagne), beer, prosecco, beer, prosecco! Champagne at a hockey game? That's a first for us. 

Another sight I couldn't photograph was how a large number of fans wore their team jerseys. They were tied around their waists hanging in the back like a skirt since they're so long! I have no idea why they wear them like that, but I thought it looked very funny.  

The whole experience was a lot of fun and we'll probably go again. Maybe to a Zurich home game when more of the cheering will be for them. The only negative was the smoke. No one can smoke inside, but as soon as we left the building, lots of cigarettes were lit. Since we were among the many walking to the train station, it was impossible to avoid.  

(side note - there is one Swiss player on the NJ Devils - he's new to the Devils this year)