Anyang Halla v High1, Saturday 19th February 2011, 6pm

When I was at the Anyang KGC basketball game a month earlier I’d noticed some posters for the Anyang ice hockey team, Anyang Halla. The ice rink is next door to the basketball arena and so when I got home I made a bit of an effort to look them up on the internet and find out something about them.

It turns out that they are one of two Korean ice hockey teams that play in the Asian League against teams from Japan and China. I’ve no idea if there is a Korean domestic league though or whether Anyang Halla and High1 from Goyang are the only ice hockey teams in Korea.

I also discovered that the ice hockey season runs from September to February, with play-off games following in March. This, then, was an end of season game between the two Korean teams in the league. Anyang were already assured of their place in the play-offs and looked likely to finish fourth whilst High1 were too far down the table to be able to qualify.

Jen and I had looked up the Anyang Sports Complex on Google Maps and were able to work out that Line Four’s Pyeongchon  was the nearest subway station and from there it turned out to be a ten minute taxi ride. There were quite a few people hanging around outside and with half an hour still to go before the start there was a lengthy queue for tickets.

Anyang Ice Rink.

We got a couple of seven thousand Won tickets and headed inside. It’s a pity that we didn’t get there a bit earlier as a disabled ice hockey game was just drawing to a close as we arrived. It isn’t a sport that I’d even known existed so it would have been interesting to have seen the game.

We got there just a bit too late to see the game.

Anyang Halla play in quite a small venue with maybe half a dozen rows of seats around three sides of the rink making up the capacity of about two thousand. A sizeable proportion of those inside seemed to be American or Canadian and most of them seemed compelled to make as much noise as possible. One bloke behind us was making random sounds as if he felt the need to reassure those in front of him that he was still there but without wanting to use any actual words. Another to my left kept shouting “Icing“ to no-one in particular and for what seemed like no good reason.

Anyang are in the blue shirts.

There wasn’t any beer for sale inside but we’d been tipped off about this before we went in so had brought our own. It was so cold though that I think brandy would have been a better option. I haven’t really seen enough ice hockey to be able to comment on the standard of the players. I went to see the LA Kings play an NHL game a couple of years ago when I was in Los Angeles and that was a bit more enjoyable with a bigger crowd and better fights amongst the players. But so it should be, those are players competing at the highest level.

LA Kings v Detroit Redwings, October 2008.

We left during the final period with the score at two each as we were going to dinner with one of Jen’s friends. When I checked later it turned out that Anyang had scored a couple more goals late on for a four-two victory.

Whilst watching Anyang was an interesting way to spend an evening, it’s a sport that I probably wouldn’t bother with too much when it overlaps with the football season.

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