In honor of hockey week we're doing another frequently asked questions post solely related to all the hockey questions we get.
First up: is there really hockey in Italy?!
Do you live in the same apartment every year?
No. The team provides us with an apartment every year, and so far they have always been different (this is our apartment this year and this was the one we had last year). Someone from the team's management finds the apartment for us before we arrive in September and we don't have to do anything. If we don't like the apartment we're given, for some reason or other, we can switch, although this has never happened to us.
Do you own a car there?
The team also provides us with a car that we use for the time we're in Italy. This year we have a snappy little Saab.
How many teams are in the league?
Are there teams all over Italy?
All the teams are in Northern Italy, but they are spread out from east to west. The farthest teams are Val Pellice which is about 8 hours away from Cortina, and Milan which is about 5. Most of the teams are between 2 and 3 hours away. The team never spends the night after away games, they always come home (although usually it's at about 3 am).
Do you go to all of Ryan's games?!
I go to all of his home games - usually there is at least one per week. If I go to an away game, it's one that's close to Cortina - my limit is two hours away. Usually I only go to away games if we have a visitor in town who wants to go.
What's an import?
An import is a player who is not from Italy and does not have an Italian passport. Every year, the league decides how many imports each team in the league is allowed to have. This year it's 4, last year it was 5 and the first year we were here, it was about 8. Players who have Italian passports (because they were born in Italy or have family members who were born in Italy) don't count as imports. Aside from the 4 imports, the rest of the team is made up of local Italian players. The majority of them are from Cortina, but some are from nearby towns.
Is the team coached in English?
Yes. For the past three years, the coach has been from North America. The first year we were here, the coach was a German-speaking Italian, and the team was still coached in English.
What's the rink like?
As I mentioned on Monday, all home games are played at the Stadio Olimpico del Ghiaccio. The rink was built in the early 1950s and holds a few thousand spectators. All teams in the Italian league play on Olympic-sized rinks which are bigger than typical NHL rinks.
Can we watch the games online?
Unfortunately no, but you can follow along on a live ticker via Pointstreak. The Italian league plays games every Thursday and Saturday nights and some Tuesdays.
How's the team doing?!
Obviously this answer changes week to week, but right now they are in 8th place.
Can you send me the schedule?
Again, unfortunately no. The Italian league LOVES to change the schedule every year and add in all kinds of different rounds. We only know the schedule up to December 13 this year and then the league will split into two halves (top and bottom) and those halves will play each other for a few weeks and determine rankings for playoffs. It's very confusing and no one TRULY understands it, not even the people who thought it up. Plus, each year is different. So, no, there is no schedule. This is Italy, after all.
I'm happy to answer any other questions that anyone has and next up, on Friday, Ryan will be answering a few of his own!
PS - More frequently asked questions: on driving, how we like living in Italy, if we speak Italian fluently and what we do all day.