A Hockey Night Out Done Right

by | Jan 18, 2022

Christmas is behind us, and the champagne corks have popped. Now here you are, stuck in a cold, wet month of January. There aren’t even any major celebratory holidays on the horizon. So what’s a local supposed to do?


Well, one of the best night outs in these bristling cold months is hiding in plain sight. Beneath the beloved flying saucer that we call the Scope, a team of grizzled hockey players is battling for dominance. The spectacle, the competition, the high-energy moments, and the crowd antics all await you.


Whether you’ve never been to an Admirals game before, or you’re just looking to step up your night out, here’s how to check those winter blues into the glass with an Admirals home game.



First up, you need to realize it will be pretty chilly in the arena. Typically Scope runs between 50 and 60 degrees on game day. The closer your seats are to that 25-degree ice, the colder it will be. Norfolk in January could be colder or warmer than that, as the weather around here is impossible to predict (don’t @ us Don Slater). So the name of the game is layers. Be ready to throw on extra layers or take ’em off. If you’re planning on drinking cold beverages at the game or you get chilly instantly, gloves and mittens are a pro-move. 



Parking can be one of the slowest parts of getting into a game. If you’re parking at Scope, we recommend getting there early to park and then taking the time to walk to a local establishment. While parking times can vary widely based on crowds and availability, walking times back to Scope will always be the same. Of course, if you can skip the car altogether and bike or walk to the game, that’s ideal.


Before you get to the game, you’re going to want to get some grub at one of downtown Norfolk’s many fine establishments. A hop skip and a jump across Brambleton in the NEON district, Sanctuary Tacos and Culture are perfect pre-hockey spots. Sanctuary’s rock n’ roll dive tacos and Culture’s perfectly crunchy wings will fuel your fandom fantastically. Downtown proper hosts spots like Republic and Baxters in the other direction from Scope. In particular, hit Republic and grab an array of appetizers. Fried Lobster Mac & Cheese Balls? Vegan Honey Jerked Cauliflower Bites? Empanadas and Spring Rolls? Those are money moves. 



If you want to be a pro, show up at the gates right before game time. Even just a moment before would be adequate. 7:31, 7:34 you get the idea. (But not if you haven’t parked yet.) It won’t be until a few minutes after the scheduled game time that they start the introductions, the national anthem, and other formalities leaving plenty of time until the real action starts. The big crowds show up early to get snacks and a seat before 7:30. So you’ll get through the gates quicker, and most of the drink lines will have died down a bit. It might be just a tad bit risky, especially if you’re uncomfortable with the logistics, but it’s how the pros do it. If you’ve never been to Scope and have trouble finding your seats, simply ask one of the attendants; it will be faster than walking around till you find them. 



Once the game kicks off, you’re in for a treat. Gameplay happens fast, and you’ll want to keep a close watch. Hockey players can skate at up to 20 miles per hour, and pucks can easily clock 90+ mph when they get moving. That speed becomes apparent when the players start to get aggressive. A 200-pound hockey player checking someone into the glass at 20 miles per hour is a sight to behold. While watching the game is excellent, the auditory experience is unrivaled in sports. The crashing of the glass, pucks hitting sticks, skates on ice, the classic announcer voices overhead, and the fans’ cheering immerses you in a world of weirdly satisfying sounds. It’s kind of like ASMR but with beer and a lot more aggression. 


Of course, you’ll want to get in on the crowd hype. You and those thousands of other fans can genuinely change the attitude and energy of players, which is just enough to make a difference in the game. While there’s always a chorus of well-rehearsed banter from the stands, the best heckling comes from the penalty boxes. There tends to be a collection of hardcore fans who love to jeer the opposing team’s players when they enter the penalty box. Getting into the crowd antics can be fantastic, but hockey fans can get a little vulgar. If you join in, keep an eye out for whether or not there are kids around you. 



Games are always three regular twenty-minute periods (unless there’s overtime), and there are two 18 minute intermissions. That’s just enough time to make a run for more food and drink or to hit the gift shop. 



Games will usually wrap up just over the two-hour mark, typically at 9:30 pm. That still leaves some time to get out on the town for some of us. Downtown almost has too many establishments worthy of the post-game rendezvous to make a recommendation. Still feeling sports vibes – hit up Baxters. Competitive energy still pulsing – Circuit Social has games for you. Want to double down on the gritty hockey player vibe – Hell’s Kitchen is the spot. If you prefer to ditch the jerseys and dance it out, try The Back. 


Hockey Night in Norfolk can be way more than just the game. Hockey can be the headliner that anchors your night out on the town. Grab the squad and have a pucking blast. 

Grab tickets to an upcoming Admirals game here. 

Paul Stetson Rice

Chelsea, NFK

Paul is the creator of NFKVA.com. He was born and raised in Norfolk, graduated from Virginia Tech, and narrowly avoided law school. Chat with him about economics, entrepreneurship, hip-hop, and hiking. When he's not working on five different projects, you'll catch him sharing a beer with friends at a local brewery.

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