I have been fortunate enough that the last two places I have lived have had a Hockey presence. That presence presents itself in the CHL or the Central Hockey League. Now the level of talent is not even close to that in the NHL, but it is still fun to watch live hockey. In Bosser City / Shreveport, LA I had the Mudbugs.That's right it is a pissed off craw fish with a hockey stick. I must admit that that is a better nickname than the team I currently watch in Midland / Odessa, TX. Here we have the Jackalopes.A pissed off rabbit with antlers. That's Texas for ya.
The true fun of the CHL is not the players making great moves and getting the puck in the net in highlight reel goals. The real fun is with the fans. These local fans LOVE their team, they are all about going to games, drinkin' some beer, and having a damn good time. The CHL fans have all kinds of rituals, from chants after every goal that they say in unison to throwing a particular item on the ice...also after every home goal. With the Mudbugs this item was foam rubber craw fish and in Odessa it is foam rubber carrots. The older (often drunker) fans use this opportunity to hit the opposing team, the goalie being the favorite target. Fights are a fact of life in the NHL but to the players and fans of the CHL, fighting is a way of life. Every game I have ever been to, in both cities, there has been at least one fight and on one occasion there was a bench clearing brawl that resulted in a total of 144 minutes worth of penalties. That my non-hockey loving friends is a lot of penalties. As much as I love my Tampa Bay Lightning and the NHL in general, the CHL is a super fun alternative. And you have not lived until you hear a fan yell in a deep southern drawl "HEY REF, THIS AINT THE HOOKING YOU'RE USED TO!!!" and then drunkenly turn to you and explain "I was talking about whores!". Damn good times.