Hockey Night in Slovenia

Our two “new country loves” (Croatia and Slovenia) were set to face off in hockey during our brief stay in Ljubljana. We were faced with a dilemma – who do we cheer for in this rivalrous battle?

Come game day, we didn’t really care. We just wanted to watch hockey!

We showed up at the arena not really knowing what to expect, but excited nonetheless to get our-Canadian-culture-on.

Hockey is different here. The rink size is bigger, the rules are a bit different, and the penalties are (in my eyes) cheaper. We Canadians know about the “international” refs.

But the biggest difference is with the fans and atmosphere. Similar to football (soccer) matches we’ve seen worldwide, fans are separated in the stands according to allegiance. We told the ticket agent to “surprise us” with our seats and she put us with the home team crowd (probably safer if things got ugly!) Before the puck even dropped, the fans who traveled from Croatia were already loudly singing and chanting from their corner.

Croatia Hockey Fans


When the starting lineups were announced, the home team skated out from an inflatable dragon. And when the announcer said the first name of the player, the crowd would excitedly yell out the last name. The crowd was so into it, right from the get-go.

Game Time!!

The game started….

Game Action Croatia vs Slovenia


More game action - Croatia vs Slovenia

And then things got interesting…

The Slovenian fans spent more time booing the other team than they did cheering for their own squad. When a Croatian player took a penalty, a good majority of the fans would boo the player going to the bench. When their own player took a penalty, they booed every time the puck was in Croatia’s possession. Obvious missed penalty calls were met with loud whistles from the fans.

While disappointed (and parched) at first when we realized we couldn’t enjoy the game with a beer like at home, we soon realized why the don’t serve alcohol at these matches.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm for fighting. Every time it looked like a couple of players might drop their gloves, the loudspeakers shook the stands with the Beastie Boys’ classic “Fight For Your Right” and the crowd surged to its feet for a better view. When all was said and done, instead of cheering for their hometown player, a good majority chose to give a double middle finger and then throw random things at the opposing player on the ice.

Oh, and we even saw some fans across the arena get kicked out for fighting. Again, good call on the no-drinking rule.

The home team also had a cheerleading squad which parked themselves in the aisles of the stands to dance at every break in play. From dance tracks to popular polka tunes, they were busy throughout the game. And my logic is that they do it to distract the fans from throwing more debris on the ice.

Team Slovenia Cheerleaders


We saw a couple of great goals, but as close as the score was (2 to 1 for Croatia), the game was severely dominated by Croatia.

Victory Croatia


We’ve seen hurling in Ireland and been to soccer games in Argentina and Belgium. Not to be a total biased Canadian (even though I am), but hockey kicks ass over all of these for the excitement of the game and the roar of the crowd. Even when they don’t serve beer.

37 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • December 12 2011

    I must add: there is much to be desired about their uniforms! It looks like they pasted a bunch of stickers all over themselves.

    Lame, I know. I’m a girl, and that’s what I care about when it comes to sports.
    Teri recently posted..More Rad Lab Fun

    • Pete
      December 13 2011

      haha, yes, even the refs had the adverts on their unis. They probably have low ticket prices because of all the advertising.

  • December 12 2011

    Curling now hockey? You sure you’re not getting a little homesick? If you’re next post is about Tim Hortons, we’re sending someone to get you.
    Just curious…are hockey tickets expensive over there? I’m sure compared to what we’re paying for NHL games in Canada it’s cheap, but I was just wondering how the Europeans price the sport.
    Steve recently posted..Mileage Run – I Just Need 15 Minutes in Dallas

    • Pete
      December 13 2011

      haha, we promise, no posts about Tim Hortons 🙂

      Tickets were SUPER cheap. We had prime tickets and paid 10 euros each. I think they get a lot of advertising and keep the price of tickets low so they get the fans in. It’s a nice change.

  • December 13 2011

    Definitely a good call on not serving alcohol. Looks like a fun “locals” experience.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Am I A Digital Nomad Now?

    • Pete
      December 13 2011

      The fans were really into it. At one point the Slovenia fans were yelling at the Croatia fans to “go back to Zagreb”. Overall a really fun experience.

  • December 13 2011

    What a cool experience!! I love that they separate you according to allegiance. How different from American/Canadian games I’m used to!
    DTravelsRound recently posted..Knee-deep in mud: the planting grass adventure

    • December 14 2011

      It is VERY different, but I am happy to say that the still played the Stompin’ Tom classic “The Good Ole Hockey Game”. Some traditions are sacred I guess! 🙂

  • Heather Carson
    December 13 2011

    Nice! I miss hockey. Nothing compares to it. But the more important question: who is your team at home?

    • December 13 2011

      Well, Pete grew up in Edmonton and I grew up about 500 kms north of there…so…GO OIL!! 🙂

  • December 14 2011

    I think the cheering squad would have been my favorite part! But do they not care about fire hazards in Slovenia? =)
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..What Semester at Sea Taught Me

    • December 14 2011

      They were a pretty energetic bunch of girls, but I guess you’d have to be to wear those skimpy clothes in a cold arena. 🙂

  • December 13 2011

    There are few things I enjoy more in life than attending a live hockey game!! When I was in the corporate world, my firm had third row season tickets. Those were great years.

    Glad you got to do this!!

    • December 14 2011

      Us too! I grew up watching live hockey all the time, because of course, all my boyfriends played! Haha!

  • December 14 2011

    A great price that let you enjoy a very popular local sport. Did you really care about who won?
    Federico @ MaiTravelsite recently posted..Exploring Busan, South Korea’s Beach City

    • December 15 2011

      Nope, we didn’t really care who won, we just wanted to see a good game!

  • December 14 2011

    What an experience! I still can’t get over all the ads that typically found on hockey sweaters all over Europe.
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Thanks A Million!

    • December 15 2011

      Yeah, they need to earn their money somehow, compared to our outrageously paid North American athletes!

  • December 14 2011

    BEST SPORT EVER! And I’m not even Canadian 😉 One of the worst things about traveling for me is missing games – I normally only make it to a few in person each season, but I’ll watch every game on TV (Go Sharks!!!).

    I’ve actually been dying to go to a hockey game in Canada.
    Ashley recently posted..What to get the Italian Futurist who has everything!

    • December 15 2011

      I’ll try not to hold your team allegiances against you. 🙂

      You must make it to a game in Canada! Try to go for playoffs, of course, it is so much fun!

  • December 14 2011

    I still don’t get hockey…
    Erica recently posted..Our Newest Endeavor: The Launch of

    • December 15 2011

      WHAT DO YOU MEAN?? Hockey is the greatest sport. It’s fast, emotionally charged, and there can be some great fights! 🙂

  • December 15 2011

    LOVE this post! I can’t wait to take in some hockey in Germany this winter. I’d love to even hop over to Slovenia to see a game. Looks so fun! Glad you guys had such a fun time. 🙂

    • December 15 2011

      When we were in Hamburg earlier this year we were just missing some NHL teams coming over to play there! I’d love to do a hockey tour of all of Europe! Hmmm…idea… 🙂

      • December 15 2011

        I almost went to those but was out of the country in Budapest!

        We should get all of the Cdn travel bloggers together for this beer drinking/hockey tour. 😛

        • December 15 2011

          How awesome would that be?? We could hit up the NHL and Canadian Club (I’m a whiskey gal) to be our sponsors 🙂

  • Cam
    December 15 2011

    So Awesome! We are still kicking ourselves for showing up a day late and missing the home team play.

    Sounds like Canucks fans, booing the opponents more than cheering for the home squad!

    • December 15 2011

      Canuckleheads!! There was a lot of booing for the other team, which we found hilarious. And we also started booing ourselves, to be a part of the action! 🙂

  • December 17 2011

    Awesome! I saw a game in Fussen, Germany a few years ago, and the atmosphere was very similar. As a massive hockey fan (Blues), I am actually hoping to time my time in Europe next year with many hockey games including the NHL Premiere games. On a side note, you may have heard Anze Kopitar the LA Kings star player, he is actually the first NHL player to have been born in Slovenia!

    • December 17 2011

      We were days away from missing the LA Kings play in Hamburg earlier this year! Would love to do a whole European hockey tour!

  • December 18 2011

    No beer? Why, that’s downright un-Canadian. Plus I think I need me an inflatable dragon.
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..The Bicycle Thief

    • December 18 2011

      How un-Canadian is right!! And they even searched pretty hard to make sure we weren’t sneaking anything in either… 🙂

  • Abi
    December 24 2011

    A very interesting take on the sport…I remember watching a football match in Chile that turned our rather risky towards the end…Good call on the no drinking indeed…

    • December 26 2011

      I’m not sure what that says about North American v. European sports…I guess we are less passionate about it if we’re allowed to drink without fear of brawls? Or we realize that it is just a sport? Or…and the most likely reason…I think most sports venues would fold if they couldn’t sell alcohol, so they’re willing to take the risk. 🙂

  • February 20 2012

    I love being in the home crowd. You just feel that sense of pride as well as protection or your own turf. When I feel that way it makes me feel alive. Even if you don’t know the teams well enough, you still can’t help but enjoy the game.
    Alexa Meisler recently posted..Estiatorio Milos & Knave: A 5 Star Evening in New York

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