Last night, the San Jose Sharks played the Philadelphia Flyers in what appears to be their only regular season matchup this year. Now, before some of you hockey know-it-alls take me to task for the title of this post, keep in mind I’m not digging into the trenches of your memories, which I’m sure contain endless facts and evidences that would surely make me recant. I am a relatively new fan to the sport of hockey. If I’m being honest, I’m a relatively new fan to anything sports-like.
I didn’t really pay any attention to sports or players or teams until that fateful day when I married into the family of a Detroit-ridden family, which was about 9 years ago. Even then, after I found out that hockey was supposed to be a “big deal,” I still didn’t decide to root for a team until about 7 years ago.
I was at an EHL Utah Grizzlies game with my brother-in-law (Wings Guy), when, at intermission, I walked into the Grizzlies’ fan shop and found a San Jose Sharks jersey. I plunked down over a hundred dollars (post approval from wife on massive cell phone) and walked out with a jersey that I still display in my man cave (but should really be called “The Shark Tank”). It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. I can prove it – the jersey is an XXL (I’m a large). I put the jersey on, walked back down to the bleachers where my brother-in-law was, and sat down. It was a statement that I would not be a Red Wings fan, even though my beloved family was. But it was also my way of showing the family that I respected their hockey tradition and would give it a chance. It would turn out to be a pivotal moment in my life (as far as sports or pivoting goes).
But, even then, I really didn’t follow the Sharks until a few years ago. I even (and this is a shame) missed the pre-season game between the Sharks and the Kings, when they played in the E Center on October 5, 2008, which is less than 50 miles from my home in Provo, Utah. Now, in my defense (and this is not a great defense), I had run the Saint George Marathon the day before that game and was probably still in St. George the Sunday that that it was played. But, from where I’m sitting now, I really wish that I had been there. I kick myself over that, all of the time.
*End 1st Intermission*
So being new to *being interested in* sports, I don’t have a lot of sports history or trivia in my brain. I wasn’t paying attention and didn’t care when: the Sharks were founded in 1991 (even though I was living in Chico, California at the time), the Sharks played at the Cow Palace, the Sharks made the playoffs in 1994, Owen Nolan played for the Sharks, or when Ron Wilson spent the bulk of his years toiling over the team.
But last night, I was watching when San Jose was disallowed a goal in the 2nd period with 8:39 left. I was watching when the Sharks were down 4-1 in the 3rd period, with 13:35 left on the clock. I know I was, because I remember agonizing in my living room as my Flyers fan neighbor, who was watching this game with me (in MY house!), reminded me that crazy things happen in hockey (that was nice of you, Chris, by the way). Somehow, it didn’t help.
But I was also watching as, within five minutes, Demers, Coture, and Pavelski tied it up. Then there was overtime.
My wife hates overtime. Which is surprising, because she’s not a huge fan of sports at all (tear apart that sentence, Lynn Truss!) So when games (Sharks, Red Wings, or otherwise) go to a shootout, she starts writhing on the floor, and reminds everyone in the room that she really hates overtime. It makes OT all the more enjoyable.
*End 2nd Intermission*
Overtime is what makes the title of this post true for me. On its own, overtime would not have justified it. But with the Sharks overcoming a three-goal deficit in the 3rd period (the only one in franchise history) and then what followed, the title is undisputed. With what appeared to be only a hummingbird’s breath left on the clock, the Flyers’ Mike Richards shoots the winning goal. This is according to the Flyers bench, Versus, and anyone who blinked. The Flyers win the game and the crowd goes wild. The camera moves over to Todd McLellan, who is calmly doing nothing. None of the Sharks players are. Something is wrong and they all know it. A review shows the puck has not crossed the goal line before the clock reads 0:00. The official confirms this miracle and we go to a shootout…
..where the Flyers are finally dispatched with two goals from Couture and Clowe.
It was the best hockey game I’ve ever seen…and I’ve seen a few.
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