So, you’re a new Mustangs fan. First of all, welcome! We feel honored to have you as part of the Mustang family and hope to see you at as many games as possible this season!

Whether you’re new to the game of hockey, new to the Mustangs, or need some reminders, we hope this will serve as a helpful guide.

Some dos and don’ts at the game:

  • Do get to know people you’re sitting by
    Watching a game is much more fun with a group of friends. Bring some to the game, and/or make some new friends once you get there! This goes for fans of the opposing team as well. Please get to know them, and be hospitable and kind to them (even if they don’t return the favor).
  • Do get loud!
    Help us make The Ice Sheet a home-ice advantage for the Mustangs. Cheer on the team. Make lots of noise. Applaud big plays. The players respond. The louder you are, the better they play. But please stay positive. Cheer on the Mustangs, but please avoid berating the opposing team, their fans or the referees.
  • Do don some Mustangs gear
    Visit Murray’s Mercantile where you can find all sorts of Mustangs apparel. Wear it to the games and around the community. Help spread the word about Mustang hockey.
  • Do dress warm
    If you’re not bundled in warm Mustang apparel, you might at least want to wear something else that’s warm. Remember, you’re watching an event in a facility that must maintain a temperature cold enough to keep the ice frozen.
  • Do follow and interact with our team accounts on social media
    We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and YouTube. We try to post a variety of content to help keep you connected and informed about the team. We also post about promotions and ways to get discounted tickets. We ask you to respect the privacy of Mustang players on social media. Please do not send them friend requests or personal messages.
  • Do try to educate yourself about the game and the Mustangs
    Watching a game is much more enjoyable when you can put the game into context. Hopefully this guide can help you learn more about hockey itself, but be sure to keep track of your favorite Mustang players, know where the team sits in the standings, etc. Those things give you a better appreciation of the importance of what’s happening in each game. You can find all sorts team and league stats and standings here: http://bit.ly/1il7JDW
  • Don’t be late
    Hockey is a fast game. A lot can happen in the first couple of minutes. If you can, try to get there a little early. If not, you could miss some key parts of the game and the tone that’s set.
  • Don’t get up in the middle of play
    If you can, try to wait until a stoppage in the play before leaving your seat for the restroom, concessions, etc., so that others around you aren’t distracted from the game.
  • Don’t be an angry fan
    These players are 17-20 year olds. They’re going to make mistakes on the ice. There will be wins and there will be losses. Try not to get all over them. Your positivity is appreciated and makes your experience at the game more enjoyable.
  • Don’t tarnish the Mustang brand
    Ownership, staff, players and coaches work hard to create a classy, professional, successful organization. It takes a ton of hard work to build up a solid brand and reputation. Unfortunately, a disrespectful, unkind, unruly or obnoxious Mustang fan can undo a lot of the hard work and put a bad face on Mustang hockey. At home games, at road games and on social media, we ask you to please be courteous and considerate. Take the high road and help us show the world what Mustang hockey is all about.

Some Basics about the game of hockey:

Hockey is fast

Players skate in excess of 20 miles per hour, but that’s not the only thing that makes this game so fast. There are numerous elements of the game that require split-second reactions, such as finding an open player with a pass, dodging an opposing player’s hit, redirecting a puck mid-air, etc. Also, hockey is unique in that players are typically only on the ice for 45 seconds or so at a time. Players rotate on and off the ice in these short shifts, allowing a player to skate as hard as he can for his time on the ice, then get a 2-3 minute breather and get right back on to do it again.

So pay attention to play. You never know what you might miss if you turn away. One thing you certainly want to keep an eye on is where the puck is at all times. The puck does occasionally get deflected out of play and into the crowd. Be aware and stay safe.

Hockey is physical

A recent study from ESPN’s Sports Science showed that even though hockey players are 20% smaller than football players, the average hockey hit is 17% harder than the average football hit.

Physical contact is a big part of the game. With players moving so fast on a confined surface, collisions will happen inevitably, but it is also a strategic part of the game. A hit can be an important defensive play. It can also be a spark to provide momentum. Hits to the head, from behind a player or with excessive force or speed into the boards are illegal and will result in a penalty. But a squared-up, straight-on body check to an opposing player is legal. It is also a safer alternative than a player using his stick to hold off a player (there are a number of stick-related penalties).

Fighting is also part of the game. Again, there are a number of rules and regulations surrounding a fight, but a typical fight involves two players, who agree to square off with each other, drop their gloves and go at it until one player has an unfair advantage, at which time a referee will step in and break it up. Fighting results in an automatic 5-minute major penalty to both players, but like a big hit, a won fight can provide some key momentum for a team in a tight game.

Some basic rules and terms of the game you’ll want to know:

Offside

An offside occurs when a player crosses the offensive blueline before the puck does. This rule is meant to not create an unfair advantage for the offensive team. When an offside occurs, the referee blows the whistle and the teams line up for a faceoff outside of the blue line.

Icing

An icing occurs when a player shoots the puck down the length of the ice before crossing the red line. This rule is meant to not create an unfair advantage to the defensive team. When an icing occurs, the referee blows the whistle and the teams line up for a faceoff all the way back in the offending team’s defensive zone.

Penalties

There are a variety of infractions that can result in penalties. Most penalties result in the offending player taken off the ice for 2 minutes (sometimes 4 or 5 or 10 minutes). That player’s team then has to play for that duration of the penalty with one less player on the ice than their opponent.

Powerplay

After the opposing team takes a penalty resulting in one less player on the ice, the team with the extra player(s) is on a powerplay.

Periods

The game consists of 3 periods which last 20 minutes each.

Overtime

In the event of a tie at the end of 3 periods, the teams play a 5-minute sudden-death (meaning the first team to score wins) overtime period with one player off the ice for each team (now skating 4-on-4). If the game is still tied after that, another player is taken off the ice for each team (now skating 3-on-3), and the teams play for another 5 minutes. If the game is still tied after that, the game will be decided in a shootout. Each team selects five players to compete in the shootout. The teams alternate shooters, each getting a chance to score 1-on-1 against the goalie. The team with the most goals after the five rounds wins.

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These have been just a few points we’ve tried to put together in a digestible format for you Mustang fans. If you’re looking for a morein-depth resource, we suggest you check out this full glossary of ice hockey terms that is pretty exhaustive.

If you have further questions, or if you have something you think we are missing in the fan guide, please let us know on our Facebook page, where Mustang fan conversation really takes place.

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