The Colorado Eagles play hockey in a double-A minor league called the ECHL. I would tell you what those initials stand for, but I can’t because they don’t stand for anything. Except I will because they used to stand for something—the East Coast Hockey League. Now they just call it the ECHL (which I presume is pronounced “Etchel”) because they really have nothing to do with the East Coast. The Colorado Eagles play in the Mountain Division of the All-Over-the-Place Etchel Hockey League, along with the Alaska Aces, Idaho Steelheads, and Utah Grizzlies—all teams that are definitely more Etchel than East Coast.
I attended a game Friday with friends Carrie and Curtis, as well as my eight-year-old son Joel. The Eagles lost 6-5 to the Fort Wayne Komets-With-a-K, who play in the North Division of the All-Over-the-Place Etchel Hockey League. The Komets-With-a-K are unique in professional sports in that their mascot doubles as a logo for laundry detergent.
This was my first Colorado Eagles game, my second-ever ECHL game (I attended a Richmond Renegades game in Virginia with fellow blogger Jeff Carl back in the late 1990s, in the days when ECHL was an acronym instead of just a weird word), and my third-ever hockey game at all (I went to a Philadelphia Flyers game in high school). The game itself was a back-and-forth thriller that could have gone either way, but ended with the hometown fans going home unhappy.
I admit that I don’t follow hockey as closely as, say, anyone reading this, but my son looks to me for sports knowledge, so I put my best face forward when he had questions. (“Daddy, what happens if they shoot a puck so hard it rips the net? Is it worth double or something?” “I’m not sure, Son. Probably!”) Joel followed the game closely, but the one thing that left him a little dazed was watching grown men engage in a fist fight on ice skates:
If your sound was up as you watched that video, I am certain that you noticed this:
No, not a Colorado Eagles fan who looks like a young Curt Schilling wondering why I have asked to take his photo. I’m talking about cowbells. The sound of cowbells filled the stadium throughout the game, never more so than during the two fights that occurred. This explains the Eagles’ motto: “Cowbells: They’re not just for 2008 Tampa Bay Rays fans anymore!”
The second-best thing about minor league hockey (more on the first-best thing below) is the zamboni. The zamboni at this game was emblazoned with the logo for Bud Light because that’s what it uses for fuel. (I have no documented evidence of this, but I can’t think of another use for Bud Light.)
As a person who does not follow hockey closely, I was proud of my own performance at the game. I shouted “Clear the zone!” at all the right times and never once called a period a “quarter.” Though in one instance I did call the Komets-With-a-K’s goalie their “catcher.”
Finally, the first-best thing about minor league hockey, at least at this game, were the “Eagles Chicks,” who spread cheer throughout the game, and just happen to have very good taste in sports blogs: