This past weekend I watched exciting breakaways, brilliant board work, high scoring power plays and quick line up changes over the boards. Obviously, with the lockout stretching into its 55th day, I wasn’t watching NHL hockey. Indoor soccer returned to the area with the Dallas Sidekicks defeating the Harrisburg Heat. Trust me hockey fans, this is the ticket for you.
Growing up in Texas, before the arrival of the Dallas Stars, I found myself playing soccer. Usually due to the extreme summer heat or the winter chill (when it actually exists) we would play indoor soccer in the off season. One of the highlights of those indoor seasons was when we would go and play at halftime of the Dallas Sidekicks home games. I even spent some summers at the soccer camps hosted by the Sidekicks, and the first number 9 for me, Tatu. It was an easy transition from indoor soccer to hockey when the Dallas Stars came to town, and brought with them their own legendary number 9.
From the fast paced style of play to the power plays, the two sports share several similarities. As I watched the Sidekicks inaugural game of their first season in eight years, I was taken back by how much I felt like I was watching the Stars in action. I watched as players were locked up in scrums along the boards, frantically fighting to free the ball up and work it into a shooting position. As the Dallas keeper made timely save, after timely save, cheers of “Saguuuu” came up from the crowd. If the ball had been a puck, the familiar sound of it ringing off the crossbar would have sent chills up my spine.
Both teams had opportunities on the power plays, and I was on the edge of my seat as the forwards worked passes from side to side in the attacking zone. With players in the “sin bin” the teams enjoyed extra-man advantages. Just like in hockey, they strategically worked the ball around looking for the right pass to set up the best shot to beat the goalkeeper. The crowd was just as into the action as the Stars faithful.
As I watched the players fly off the bench to counter the line change of the opposing team, I could almost here Glen Gulutzan calling for Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson to hop out to match up with another team’s top line.
Even Tatu is tied to hockey too. Tatu, other than sharing the same jersey number, has many things in common with Dallas Stars hall of famer Mike Modano. Tatu was the face of the Dallas Sidekicks for his entire playing career, and often was relied upon to carry the team through tough matches. He holds most of the records for the team, and is a member of the Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame. Many times Tatu would baffle his opponents with next-level skill seconds before burying the ball in the back of the net. Sound familiar?
Honestly Stars fans, if you are looking for a game that will satisfy your hockey jones, grab yourselves a ticket to the next Dallas Sidekicks home game. You won’t be disappointed.