BOSTON—Ardently defending their steadfast loyalty to the sport, NHL fans around the nation gathered Thursday to claim that hockey was way more fun if you’re there in person, on the ice, and actively playing in the game. “Sure, when you watch on TV, the puck looks kind of small and the game is hard to follow, but when you’re right there on the ice swinging your stick as part of a professional team roster, everything’s different,” said local hockey fan Travis Witkins, explaining the immense difference it makes to the active viewing experience when one actually travels to a professional hockey arena, suits up into full pads, helmet, and uniform, and goes skate-to-skate with a team of NHL players. “The feeling of community and camaraderie is so much more intense in person when you’re celebrating and embracing your teammates after a great save or a hard-fought goal. And nothing beats the rush of experiencing an unfolding break as you fly down the ice for a one-on-one shot against the goalie. If more people experienced the NHL this way, hockey would be a way more popular sport.” Witkins did admit that the in-person playing experience was usually aided by pounding a few beers in the parking lot first.