As we're all facing difficult and trying times, it's a good opportunity to reflect and appreciate the wonderful hockey community we share.
So, USA Hockey asked social media followers for a short story about how they became a hockey fan. What followed were hundreds of responses showcasing the wide range of ways people have fallen in love with the game. Below is a handful of those short stories.
When hockey resumes, let's continue growing the sport by introducing new families and friends to local rinks!
My brother Steve started taking me to the Forum (in LA) when I was about 10 (and he could drive). They had $4 student tickets (the Kings were....not good) and we could sneak down lower pretty easily. I fell in love with it. One of the many gifts he gave me. Miss you bro.
The Dallas Stars moving to Texas!
My son Mikey became the BIGGEST hockey fan at age 7 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He watched the games with his dad and collected hockey cards while he was really sick. This helped him cope. When Brian Boyle was diagnosed with the same leukemia as my son and returned to hockey, thats when he asked to play! That was 2 years ago and he still lives for the sport. We say that the medicine saved his life, but hockey saved his soul. He is 9 now and doing great!
When I was 6 years old, my dad took me to a Fort Worth Brahmas game and a player gave me a puck during warmups and I have been hooked on hockey since.
It was a matter of necessity: learning to enjoy hockey if I wanted to see my husband between October and June!
-Wendy Gunn Zibresky
1954 as a 4 year old skating. I fell pretty hard and future UND All-American Joe Poole picked me up and skated with me. Many years later, Joe was my HS hockey coach. He was a great player, coach and man.
From my days pushing a chair across the ice in the best front yard a kid could have.
We were invited to one of the first Atlanta Thrashers games and were asked to bring our 3 year old son...were told he would love it. He walked in saw warm ups and said “I’m gonna play that”. He just finished his competitive ice hockey career playing at Kennesaw State and is even sharing his love by doing some coaching! And we’ve been along for the ride.
-Barbara Crosby Butler
My Dad had season tickets to the Maine Mariners back in the early 80's, when they were the Flyers farm team. I got to see Pelle Lindberg play a warm up game and thought his mask was the coolest. Went home and became the best street hockey goalie in the neighborhood.
Dad was a hockey player. Taught me the game while watching San Jose Sharks games. Now I get to watch him teach my youngest son how to play & we have instilled the love of the game into all 3 of my kids. Best family time ever! #GoSharks #BleedTeal #TealTogether
Miracle on ice! No question! Young and my first experience. Then I helped manage (not a great skater) a great high school team 5 years later. It stuck!!!
I got adopted when I was little. My new dad took me to the hockey shop to get his skates sharpened. While we were there the owner let me shoot a pick in the back and immediately after leaving I asked if I could sign up. And here we are.
As odd as it may sound I fell in love with hockey when I first saw the Mighty Ducks as a kid. Ever since then I always wanted to play. But we lived 45 minutes away from the nearest rink and couldn't afford hockey much less the back and forth drives. About 3 and a half years ago I finally got the opportunity to play hockey. It had always been my dream to play and now I am and it's honestly the best decision I have ever made. I play on a veteran's hockey and the family I have with that team are just best family I could ever ask God for, I'm truly grateful .
Found a few plastic sticks buried in the garage when I was a kid. My neighbors and I wanted to try something new. We taught ourselves how to play until it was too dark to find the tennis ball we were using. 13 years later I still love the game with all my heart.
Flipping through the channels when I was about 6-7 looking for cartoons when I came across something new and it looked cool but didn’t know what it was called. About a week or so later my dad brought home hockey sticks from school (benefit of being a gym teacher) - never looked back.
My dad was a painter. Hand Painted the billboard ads at the top of the Toledo Sports Arena. He painted & I go to watch practice. Got tickets near glass, went to the game & my dad caught an arrant puck and gave it to me..rest is history.
I watched some before I played, but once I started playing sled hockey that furthered my interest in the NHL and college hockey.
Over a couple decades ago now, one of my friends took me to my first hockey game shortly after my engagement was called off. Gave me something else to focus on and been hooked ever since!
It was a way for a girl to bond with her Dad! Been a Sabres fan for 50 years!
My then boyfriend took me to a Capitals game at the old Cap Center for a date. Fast forward to 2009 and my 2 kids were looking for a new sport. Enter youth hockey and grown up hockey all. The. Time :)
Been going to San Jose Sharks games since I was a little kid. I’m from a surf town and grown up in the ocean but I’ve always wanted to ice skate on a frozen lake. I love how hockey truly cares about the community they are in and players actually care about their fans. Also nothing like watching playoff hockey live... It’s electric. I want to go ice skating more.
My older brother introduced me to the sport and I don’t know exactly how at the age of 4, we got into watching the islanders play. I loved the flow the idea that everyone is accountable and everyone can make an impact even if they make a mistake. Allegory for life.
Every Saturday night my Dad would watch Blackhawks games on WGN; one of the neighbor families flooded their back yard so we started skating and playing.
Step one: date a girl with season tickets to an IHL team. Step two: marry said girl and keep going to games. Step three: have kids who start playing hockey.
-Juan Andres Rios
I took a picture with these two New York Rangers when I was 4 years old at Rye Playland. Ever since then I was hooked.
Freshman year of college my buddy was watching highlights during class and I watched over his shoulder. He then said we should go to a game, so i did on Thursday. And went to another on Saturday and again on Tuesday. Got myself and jersey and haven't stopped watching since.
Jr. A hockey team in Austin, MN (Austin Mavericks) in the mid-70’s coached by Lou Vairo! Great Coach team won National Championship.
My Mom worked for Daily News and when I was 7 she got tickets to a game at MSG in like 3rd row. Steve Vickers was warming up and I was face pressed to glass and he waved and put a puck over glass me and brother fought over.
My dad would watch almost every game one tv. He was a Pens fan but had much respect for many other players. I never played anything but beer league and my dad passed away before his grandson was born but I think our love has gone on to him.
Ed Snider starts the Flyers & Snider Hockey starts a youth hockey program in my town. I join a team. That experience leads to cheering the 1980 Miracle, playing in college, living (& dying) with the Flyers, lifelong friendships, & meeting my wife. The rest is history.
My dad took me to a Hartford Whalers game when I was 8 or 9. No one in my family played so I learned everything from the TV broadcasters. I was a 10 year old girl in the 70s with a hockey themed bedroom!
Why I became a fan, my boys!
T.J. Oshie in the 2014 Winter Olympics! Liked it before, fell in love with it then.