Hockey freaks and fried food

Generals vs. Spits, Oshawa Civic Auditorium


Rating: NNNNN


It’s unlikely anyone would confuse the Oshawa Civic Auditorium with the Air Canada Centre. NThere are no sushi stands or platinum lounges in Oshawa’s barn of a hockey arena, no ads for Scream III blaring out of the battered, chicken-wire-covered scoreboard and no peculiar works of scrap-metal art outside. And you definitely won’t find the Auto Fry at the ACC.

The Auto Fry is a miracle of deep-frying technology so complicated that only the Auto Fry attendant is qualified to operate it, and fans will risk missing the beginning of the second period just to taste its grease.

Forget for a moment that eating food from said machine is like pouring cement down your throat. In the end, it’s inventions like the Auto Fry that separate millionaire hockey from the minor leagues.

Anyone who moans about how off-putting it is to go see an NHL game owes it to him- or herself to go see one of the eight Ontario Hockey League teams around Toronto.

OHL addicts hype the league’s wide-open, ultra-physical, brawl-friendly style of play – Sunday’s game between the Oshawa Generals and the Windsor Spitfires had a scrap almost every two minutes in the second period – and the fact that there are no stoppages in play for commercial breaks.

But what truly separates the minors from the big leagues is the atmosphere.

Everyone goes to OHL games because they want to, not because it’s company policy to take clients out to the game. And at a whopping $9 a ticket, people are getting their money’s worth.

Sunday’s game was a loud affair in section eight. With at least two cowbells and a tambourine in the house, this is one place where you’re not going to be yelled at by your fellow fans for cheering too loud or get dirty looks for calling the opposing goalie a pylon, which seem to happen every time we see a game at the silent ACC.

Instead, Oshawa has the Gennies Lady, a hard-core shouter who hurls abuse at the other team and has her own Greek chorus of supporters around her who yell “Wooo” after each remark.

Windsor’s pathetic Fedor Federov, brother of Sergei, took a real beating from the particularly ornery couple in section seven – she had a mouth at least as big and dirty as his – but that abuse came off as playful taunts next to the pounding the referee got.

Booed from the second he stepped onto the ice, the taunts hurled his way ranged from the violent to the very personal, so much so that after 60 minutes of watching someone being told he’s an asshole and that the crowd feels sorry for his wife, you almost feel bad for the poor dude in the pinstripes.

Almost.

Distractions like the Generals’ creepy Pinochet-look-alike mascot and the guy handing out Tim Horton’s snack packs a few sections away kept it a family affair, but the focus Sunday was the game, and more importantly, making noise to show you were paying attention and appreciated what you saw. If you’re not going to hoot and holler, why bother even showing up?

Folks in Oshawa know the score. 4-1 Generals.

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