We Should All Be Watching Women's Hockey

There has never been a greater time than now to enjoy the best sport that can be played on ice: Women's Hockey.

For my family, hockey was less than a way of life. Even so we shared season tickets and my mom was overly in to it; so as a way to spend some time with her and see some dudes slide around some ice, I got in to it. It helped that in the late 90' we supported the Colorado Avalanche, and in the late 90’s they were doing extraordinarily well. It’s 2018 now and as one of the worst teams in the league  those days are behind them. I still support them, quietly, privately, and shamefully.

I thought I’d seen everything in my lifetime of accidental hockey fandom. I’ve seen shattered glass and awesome slap shots. Bench clearing fights, and even a goalie fight or two. I’ve thrown hats out onto the ice and waited outside the exit to have one signed by a player. I’ve shaken my pom pom at countless playoff games, and in the fourth grade I entered a contest in the local paper to have an Avs player visit my classroom. We won, and Adam Foot was my favorite player from then on.

Now I live in South Korea, so I headed up to Pyeongchang the see the olympics. Not for the snowboarding, or the bobsledding, or even figure skating. Those events are incredible, but  it was the hockey I was there  to see.  Up to this point, I had only seen men play “the best game you can name,” and nothing, and I mean nothing prepared me for Women's Hockey.

You could tell me: “ Oh yeah, women's hockey is just like men's, except they can't cross check, other than that it’s basically the same.” While this is technically true, you could also tell me: “Women's hockey is just a better game as a spectator over all.”

You want more power plays? Women's hockey. More breakaways? Women's Hockey. Faster line changes, more shots on goal, a faster paced more action packed game? You guessed it, Women's hockey.

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The women’s game I saw was the Quarter Final showdown between Switzerland and the Olympic Athletes of Russia. The Swiss got it handed to them, yet it wasn’t a lifeless walkover. There was never a dull moment in the game. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time as women unafraid to tuck their ponytails into their jerseys showed me exactly what had been missing from hockey my entire life: more action, dynamic action, an excitingly finessed game in thrilling perpetual motion.

Men's games are still great and I enjoyed watching the Game between “Russia” and the USA., but it suffered in comparison.  The men’s game felt  tired, clunky and crawled forward at a snail's pace. There was more fighting, something that my animalistic thirst for blood loves as much as the next well-mannered lady, but there was something about the kind of excitement the women's game provided that was just more enjoyable. Peanalties were actually called, power plays were more cutthroat, and the lady-power skills of these athletes truly spoke to my soul. The women came to play, and it was like seeing the game from a whole new light. Sure, the NHL didn’t come out to play, but I’ve seen highstakes NHL games, and even up against the  magnified excitement of a childhood memory, the women’s game was still a revelation.

I want to see women's hockey take over the world. The Women’s USA vs Canada game brought in 2.9 million viewers. Part of a an overall ratings slump for the Peyongchang games, but still the most watched late night sports event for NBCSN.  There’s excitement for women’s hockey, there’s buzz, there’s no getting around the fact that it is just a great, great spectator game.  It’s 2018 and there’s a lot of thought, emotion and effort in not just equality, but advancement and bringing women to the fore of fields that have always been dominated by men.  In the world of hockey, the women have got this.  I’ve seen them play, they train hard, they have the skill, and they have the fight in them to get the equal pay and fans.

We should all be watching women’s hockey, because I guarantee it, we are all going to want to watch women's hockey.

Fiona Van Tyne