Mina 28, 2078, m249
Even though hockey has, like most sports, diminished from its hey-days, I grew up in a hockey family back on Earth. I played in a junior league before college until an injury started to steer me away from the game. I was sure I severed all tied with it with when I decided to move to Mars, to a planet with no sports at all. Yet, here we are.
Most of the young Martians I know have never heard of the game until now, not basic exposure via an Earth feed or game title. They know little to nothing of the legendary superstars or the speed and physicality of the sport. It was fast, furious, and heavy hitting.
Today, was my return to a game I thought I knew.
The Phantoms played against Khimik at Korolev's K-Rink and I was going to give this new ISMO version a chance. I always enjoyed the 3-on-3 element of hockey and with “Bigger rinks!” they promised, sounded convincing. With dramatically different physics and amateur players, however, I had reservations.
As I sat with 250 other curious attendees in the small seating area around the rink, everyone I talked to, agreed: "This is not your dad’s hockey."
You would expect switching from Aero Football to the pace of hockey to be overwhelming, but even comparing it to tradition hockey, beyond the obvious differences with the rink, the key difference was the pacing.
I was amazed at how little stoppage there was. The circular ramps kept the puck in play and it was amusing (if not funny) to see the players attempt to navigate it. There were few penalties and rough-housing, but when players were sent to the penalty box, the effect of going one player down was massive.
At the start, it was back and forth action as teams traded chances off the rush. Before, finally, a goal! Khimik took the lead 7:51 in the first period.
With these compact teams, players were forced to take on multiple roles throughout the game. They morphed and evolved through the game as the captains, Jonathan Moore (Phantoms) and Alex Yanovna (Khimik) got creative. The Phantoms used all three of their 3 forwards late in the game on a power play while Khimik responded with 2 defenders to kill the penalty.
This all made for an amazing flow of action throughout the game.
As the players flew by, so did the time. With 15 minute periods, before I knew it, the game was over and Khimik hung on to narrowly escape a Phantoms come-back, and win the game 3 to 2.
I was pleasantly surprised by today's match. This kind of hockey builds on familiar roots while introducing appropriate derivations that for Martian conditions and tastes. Putting my fondness of the sport aside, ISMO has been transparent about the experimental nature of sport, so if you come into a game with an open mind and with the right expectations with respect to the players' skill level, there is a lot to enjoy.