Raleigh, North Carolina is known for alot of things. We are known for having a highly educated population, in part due to our proximity to Research Triangle park and three teaching hospitals. We are part of the ‘Triangle’ (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill), a stop on the collegiate basketball path known as Tobacco Road, and home to the NC State Fair. Raleigh is the State Capital and much of our government is housed downtown. Sports are big here and have been as long as I can remember, especially ACC Basketball. So when the powers that be began to talk about getting a professional sports club in the Triangle, we were all sure it would be a basketball team. But, with the bait of a brand new sports arena, our officials brought us a hockey team. Hockey….in the south. Ice is a rarety here. Can you imagine?
I had never been a hockey fan; college basketball, baseball, football, and even golf and soccer…never any kind of winter sport. Hockey is a winter sport, is it not? And, dare I say, a yankee sport to boot. Right?
1997 was the year that the Hartford Walers made the move from Connecticut to Raleigh. A shakey start playing in the Greensboro Coliseum , traditionally an ACC Tournement venue, led them over the next few years to a spot in the NHL Playoffs in the 2000-2001 season. Their new home, the RBC Center, was rocking last night as the Carolina Hurricanes won their first Stanley Cup playoff game against the Edmonton Oilers, 5-4. The fog horn sounded to a booming crowd with each goal scored and rookie goalie, Cam Ward, had 34 saves. The red flags are flying literally everywhere today. Hurricane symbols are in every shop window and the few tickets that are left for Wednesday’s game two are standing room only.
Our dignified, quiet, traditional southern city has become a hockey town. We love our ‘Canes and our hockey fan base, known as Caniacs, are a-plenty, myself and family now included.
Hockey in the South…..who’d a thunk it.