Before their skates hit the ice: Hockey team discusses pre-game rituals

Kent State head coach Jim Underwood gives his team a pre-game speech Friday, Nov. 6, 2015. After the speech, Kent went on to sweep the University of Pittsburgh with a 3-2 win and a 4-3 win.

Max McCarty

Hockey is more than just lacing a pair of beat-up skates and stepping onto the ice. It’s laying out your suit and tie for the ride to the rink. It’s eating that same pre-game meal or getting that same flavored coffee or energy drink to get pumped up for that night’s game.

Many people don’t see these little quirks and intricate details it takes for these athletes to not only get to the rink but to play the way they do, with the focus that they have.

To some athletes, a pre-game ritual can make or break their game play for the night. This isn’t something taken lightly. The meals are made, the drinks are savored and the tunes are turned up to full volume. From something as simple as grilled chicken to something as specific as the playlist they listen to before games, it all adds up to a fine-tuned focus.

Skates are sharpened, tape is applied and the little rituals and details begin to unfold in front of the player’s eyes. Some players tape up their wrists and sticks a certain way before every game. Writing Psalm numbers, specific initials or just little details that give that extra comfort when on the ice are all parts of the rituals.

When it comes down to it, does this all matter?

To the blind eye, probably not. To these athletes it’s something that they must do. Something that sets them apart from the competition and brings them to that focus point where all they have on their mind is their job out on the ice. From the first puck drop to the final buzzer, the rituals influence it all. 

Max McCarty is a photographer for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].