How The Internet Got Me Back Into Hockey

Today, I want to talk about Hockey. Now I know what you're thinking: Chris is talking about sports? Have I fallen into some kind of parallel universe? No, dear reader, I have not gone insane. Before you start questioning my geek cred, bear with me past the break and ill explain everything.

When I was a kid, my family lived within a couple of blocks from the Greensboro Coliseum. There, we had a minor league hockey team called the Greensboro Monarchs. For my dad, brother, and myself; one of our favorite things to do on the weekend was to walk down the road and watch the Monarchs games. Tickets were fairly cheap, as it was just a minor league team, but we still had a blast.

Fast forward to 1997. Due to some deals that had been made, the Monarchs left Greensboro and the "new" NHL team the Carolina Hurricanes was to play its first two seasons in Greensboro while their new arena was built in Raleigh. We (my family) were disappointed that our beloved team had left, yet the very first game that Hurricanes played; we were there rooting from the stands. We didn't go to many games while the Hurricanes were in Greensboro, mostly due to the high ticket prices. Eventually, the Hurricanes left and we got another minor league team that lasted for a few years - at least into my high school years. I have many more hockey memories - from leaving my Eagle Scout ceremony to go to the hockey game to trying to get my college friends to go to a Hurricanes game with me. I even remember being glued to the hotel TV in South Carolina where we were vacationing when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2006.

So as you can see, hockey has been a part of my life for awhile - even longer than some of the geekier things I do. Specifically, it was something all of "the guys" in my family to bond around. See, my dads a big football fan, but I could never really get into it. For some reason though, I really enjoyed watching hockey with him.

Fast forward again to now. For the past few years, I have t paid attention to hockey. I couldn't tell you if the Hurricanes had been in the playoffs or if they had even won a game at all. Last season I thought about paying more attention, but by then it was too late (plus I was kinda busy with this thing called a "wedding" that was coming up). Then, of course, the lock out this season prevented me from seeing any games up until now. There was a lot of talk around the office about the lock out ending, so the idea was planted in my head to start following hockey again.

But wait! Didn't I give up cable years ago? Yes, sadly, I had no way to natively watch hockey on my TV. Not only that, but being in Maryland, the only games that would have been on would be Washington Captials games, a team I didn't care about. Yet, I vaguely remembered an app on my AppleTV that let me watch live games if I paid for a subscription. I did some searching and found out about "NHL GameCenter Live". You pay a flat fee each season (only $49.99 for this shortened season), and you get access to all** the NHL games. I talked with some friends on the internet and some work people and decided to make the leap to purchase the package.

Monday night, the Hurricanes played the New York Islanders, so I flipped on my AppleTV and loaded up the NHL app. After signing in, the app presented me with all the games that were going on that day. Once I picked the game I wanted, it asked me if I wanted to watch the Hurricanes broadcast or the Islanders broadcast. I thought that this was pretty cool - I wasn't sure what I was going to get so I was expecting some generic broadcast that just had the score and a few camera angles. No, the broadcast that I watched was the same broadcast that my dad could have been watching back in North Carolina. Notice I said "could have been watching". Monday, he was out and about, talking with me over the phone. I was letting him know that I was getting back into hockey and that I was currently watching the game. He kept asking me about the game as he drove home, but when he got home Mom was already in the middle of watching something on the tv. So, for the last period of the game, I kept sending him status update texts as teams would score and he would reply back to them, either excited or miffed (depending on who scored). After the game was all said and done (Hurricanes won by the way), we said good night and he mentioned that he had fun talking hockey with me that night. And you know what, I did too!

All in all, I like what the GameCenter Live offers - not only could I have watched the game from my AppleTV, but I can watch games on the Roku boxes I have around the house, the Xbox/Playstation 3, or on one of my iDevices. The only downside to the feature is the all** I mentioned above. You see, due to the stupid cable contracts that are in place, games that are played in your area are "blacked out" from being viewed on the Gamecenter Live. The reasoning is that you can find the game on your local cable provider - which is great and all unless you are like me and do not have cable. This is such a dumb rule - they literally show you the same broadcast that you view on cable, complete with the commercials and everything! So why can't I view it where I want to? For me, this doesn't affect me much as it means I'll just miss when the Hurricanes play the Capitals - but I know plenty of people that would love to use this service but don't because they won't be able to see the games that they want. Stupid cable deals….

Are you a hockey fan? Or, like me, have you found geeky ways to enjoy your non-geeky activities? Let me know below!