Being Slovak this time of year comes with a lot of stress and excitement. If you’re a hockey fan you’re probably pretty occupied for like 2 weeks and if you’re both Slovak and a hockey fan, like me you’re in for a lot of fun.
Hockey championships are here and this time it’s hosted by my home country Slovakia.
IIHF was always a big deal for my country. There is something about coming together once a year to bitch about our hockey players.
For these 2 weeks, every Slovak not only watches hockey but knows better.
From day one you can see Slovak flags everywhere. Fans everywhere. It’s incredible how for what seems like the only time of the year, people from Slovakia are actually proud of their country, no matter the game results.
A country with 5,5 million people obviously can’t have as many elite hockey players as others. Hell, we have like 9 thousand hockey players and like 60 hockey ranks. In total.
To host the IIHF world championship is a huge deal for us.
The last time we were hosting world championships was in 2011. I was leaving primary school at that time and moving to Kosice for my high school. Kosice was hosting the games alongside Bratislava and I missed the event by one year. It was so bittersweet for me. To live in a city hosting worlds, to feel the atmosphere myself and I was too young to witness it. That’s when I promised myself that the next time Slovakia is hosting the championships I would definitely go.
And I stand my promise.
Getting tickets was ridiculous. The moment the first few were available I was too slow and I couldn’t get them in time as all of the good ones were sold out in a couple of minutes. Luckily I managed to get some a few weeks later. Not the one I had my eyes on but at that point I would literally take anything. Another ludicrous fact was that you couldn’t buy more than 4 tickets at once. Totally understandable decision but try buying tickets for 5 members of the family though.
My goal was to get tickets for the Kanada-Finland game. To see my 2 faves play each other would be lovely but that was just a high hope for me. Thankfully I’ll get to see both of those teams in Kanada-Denmark and Finland-France games as I bought 2 games tickets. Costed shit ton but it’s once in a lifetime opportunity so what the hell.
I’m so into Finnish play since like forever. It’s been just 2 games so far this year but Kaapo Kakko owns my ass. That kid is going places and I’m so excited I’m gonna see future NHL number one pick live in Kosice.
Sure thing I would love to see my own country play but I didn’t even dare to wish for that. Those tickets were sold out in seconds.
As I told you – it’s a big deal here.
HERE for me is the Czech republic though. It’s been 4 years since I moved from Slovakia to Czech and in championships, I totally root for Czechs, unless they are up against Slovakia. There is this great rivalry between Czechs and Slovaks and being Slovak in Czech in May it’s so funny.
No matter how bad our team is, just as long as their is bad as well. Brothers.
All year long no one gives a crap about where you’re from.
But once the hockey is on, everyone is proudly bumping their chests.
Also for NHL fans, it’s like the only opportunity to see NHL players play in the European time zone. Sure I get up at 2 am to catch some NHL games but time zones are torture. This time I get to sleep at a reasonable hour after the match.
Another reason why is IIHF world championships awesome is that those very few NHL players of our own, get to come home and play for their country. Not that many of them do, by usual circumstances (no wonder as by the end of the tournament they are the bad guys no matter how hard they try) but this year we got the roster I’m so freaking excited about.
But we are not the only ones who brought big guns. Russia came prepared to crush us all and they are one of my favorites to win this tournament. I also feel like one of the top 3 places could go to either us (Slovakia) or the Czechs. That would please my Czechoslovakian heart very much. Finland is my number one always. Before the beginning of the tournament, I was rooting for Germany. Still am but I have my doubts after today’s game. But hey it’s just a first match.
I personally prefer watching matches with american commentary rather than Czech/Slovak ones. The pronunciation of Slovak words is hilarious for me and the astonishment of American commentators about how loud and excited are Slovak fans is incredible. They are so baffled about how can Slovaks be already partying at 9 in the morning and drinking without breakfast.