Cold Play

Why have so many Texans fallen in love with the national sport of Canada? It’s simple: Hockey—the non-locked-out minor league variety—offers us everything that’s missing from our other favorite sports.

MOST NIGHTS, L. J. MCCOY gets to the Dodge Arena in Hidalgo before warm-ups, decked out in an orange hunting vest and a floppy hat, homemade signs—“You’ve been Shmyred” reads a favorite—in one hand and a bullhorn in the other. The McCoy family business, Valley Block and Brick, owns eighteen season tickets for the area’s minor league hockey team, the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, mostly for clients and employees. But their half a dozen seats behind the visiting team’s penalty box have more to do with family than business. Anyone who drops the gloves with the Bees’ six-foot-six enforcer Ryan Shmyr will soon hear from the 39-year-old McCoy about how badly he got whupped (or, if you will, “Shmyred”). Meanwhile, his three face-painted, jersey-wearing nine- , eleven- , and thirteen-year-old daughters will pound the glass and scream their heads off, as will their 75-year-old great-grandmother, Pat Reynolds, who’ll also be wearing a Bees jersey. Before hockey found its way to the border, Grandma Petie never much liked sports. “But we came to the first game here and got totally addicted,” she says. “Immediately! Hockey is so fast, nonstop. And we’ve gotten to know some of the players, and they’re fantastic. I just love it.”

On any given Friday night, even with high school football in full swing, you can find folks like the McCoys all over the state. Minnesota, Michigan, and

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