Sports Take: Hockey warrants watching next to football, baseball

Postseason baseball is here, as well as college football and cooler weather.

What most people may not care about, but I am here to advocate, is the arrival of the 2011-2012 hockey season.

I understand that here in Texas, football presides in the avid athletic fan’s mind. Hockey is mostly popular in the Northeast.

If you don’t like hockey, I suggest you go to a game.

True, you will need a sweatshirt because the ice, unbelievably, is cold. However, the atmosphere of hockey is what the game is all about.

We watch guys run around Astroturf passing an awkwardly shaped pigskin around, trying to score while knocking each other down.

We watch both men and women run while bouncing a ball on the hardwood to try and put the ball into the hoop 10 feet off the ground.

We watch as men take a swing at a small white ball with a wooden bat, trying to hit it out of the park.

Imagine if all these athletes tried their sport on ice.

Hockey is more than the sporadic fighting and checking against the glass. It’s about strategy, timing, accuracy and speed.

Think back to your childhood and the movie The Mighty Ducks.

Try to remember all the goals the scored. They weren’t scored in the normal slap shot fashion.

“Duck Danglefest” was the term for these goals because they were artistic in nature.

For example, the Flying V where all five players skate down the ice just like a flock of ducks would.

That technique is better revealed in the movie, but in real life, strategy is revealed as superior.

But if you don’t understand hockey, how are you supposed to understand the sport?

Here’s a quick rundown:

Hockey is divided into three periods of 20 minutes.

There are two blue lines on the court on either side of the red line, which is like the half court line in basketball.

The puck must always pass over the blue line before a player of the offensive team or else it is offsides.

You cannot pass over two lines or else the referee will blow the whistle.

That whistle is also blown for numerous penalties, which lead the guilty player to two minutes in the penalty box.

Toward the end of the game, if a team is down by a goal and it is desperate to tie, the team can pull its goalie from the ice and replace him with another offensive player, making the game 6-on-5.

However, that leaves an open net.

If all of this is still like Spanish at Baylor for you, I suggest watching Miracle, the movie depicting the true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

After watching that movie, I would be surprised if you don’t want to watch a real hockey game.

Coincidentally, the perfect opportunity to watch these games are emerging as the regular season starts this week.

For the Dallas Stars, the season begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Fox Sports Southwest.

The Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999 over the Buffalo Sabres in a triple-overtime Game 6.

Since then, not much has been impressive from the franchise. Sounds kind of like the Cowboys.

Nevertheless on Friday night, order some pizza and turn on the TV to Fox Sports Southwest to catch the opening game of the Stars 2011-2012 season.

Krista Pirtle is a junior journalism major from Olney and is a sports writer for the Lariat.