Maybe I was 12 years old, standing on a small sheet of ice, not much bigger than a couple of puddles strung together. I had boots on my feet because I didn’t own skates, but many days I skated like the wind. Nearby was a completely home-made hockey net. It wasn’t the right size, or even symmetrical. To me though, it was perfect, and the crease was the place where you entered the Hall of Fame. I had an old Sher-Wood hockey stick and a battered puck. If I didn’t have a puck, or had lost one, I used a frozen tennis ball. The play-by-play announcer in my head often could be heard through the words I breathlessly expressed while gliding around on that ice. Time after time, my team, the Bruins, would be in improbable, if not impossible, situations, only to rescue victory from the vicious jaws of defeat. I played them out. All my Bruins heroes would magically turn things around and pull out another amazing victory. These were kids dreams, youthful imagination, while emulating my NHL heroes. These dreams don’t come true? Do they?
Last night I wasn’t playing, but sitting on my couch, in my Bruins jersey and hat, cheering for the team I have loved since the first times I can remember watching Hockey Night in Canada as a small boy. I had my three youngest kids around me, in their gear too, cheering for the Bruins. My goal for the night was just to watch Game 7. That’s it, just watch the game.
We had planned it so that the second intermission would be the time I would put our three-year-old twins to bed. I knew this might require more than the 18-20 minutes between periods, but it had to be done. So, off we went, up the stairs and into the twins room. I laid down on the floor between their mattress beds, which are only about two feet apart. We did our usual talking over various events of the day. We sang our songs together, always finishing with “The Twins Song” that I wrote when they were infants. Then we had our prayer time just before ‘close our eyes and mouths quiet time’. The twins were restless and sleep came slowly. I too was restless but silently prayed while putting all stress and frustration from my body and mind so that the twins wouldn’t sense or feel any of it. I wanted them to be at ease, in total comfort, so they could drift off to sleep.
Meanwhile, through my mind, marched the recurring thought, “I just want to watch Game 7.” Finally after dozing off myself, the twins were asleep, and I quietly slipped out of their dark, warm room. I bolted downstairs to hear that the Bruins had lost. My twelve-year-old son told me that the Bruins lost. It was 4-1 in the 3rd period so he had put on a survival show I had recorded, and that we had talked about earlier in the day. I was disappointed. First, I had just wanted to sit and watch the game. Second, my team had lost?!?!? Sensing how disappointed I was, my son exited out of the Alaskan survival show only to see the Bruins and Leafs lined up at center ice to start overtime. What!!!!!! Overtime?!?!? This changes everything!
We rewound the DVR recording and watched the 3rd period. We knew what was coming, kind of. Still we groaned at Leaf goals, and potential goals, but cheered when Rask turned them away. We cheered every Bruins rush and went a little more giddy with each chance, and ultimately three successive Bruins goals. As we were watching, and catching up, my phone sounded the alert. I had received a text from 69985, 98.5 The Sports Hub. This meant that there was a winner, but I wasn’t going to look at that text. We watched the end of regulation. In the middle of all this madness, my wife Amaris, who had worked late, came home. We paused our replay to explain the situation and she sat down with us and watched the end of the game too.
I thought, please don’t let the Bruins lose this game after that amazing comeback, knowing that in reality, the game had already ended. I didn’t check my phone, or touch my iPad, and I wouldn’t have answered the phone had it rung. I was watching this overtime in all of it’s suspense. On the inside I was so happy for Patrice Bergeron, my favorite Bruin player; on the outside I was tense, wondering how overtime would play out. Bergeron had assisted on the third Bruin goal, and scored the game-tying goal, completing the comeback.
We fast-forwarded through the third intermission, stopping long enough to watch the 3rd period goals again. This, after we had watched each of them several times the first time through. Now it was time to watch the overtime, which had already ended, but was unknown to us. We were on the edge of our seats. Then it happened. The little boy on the mini pond stormed the net and put home the game-winning, series-ending goal. An entire city erupted in unison as that battered puck found the back of the net. The beaten warrior laid on the ice, face down, beaten, but respected, no match for the imagination and wonderment of the hero on that day. The Bruins had done the unthinkable, the unpredictable, the miraculous, the impossible, they pulled victory from the rubble that was essentially their lack of heart and soul since stealing a win in Game 4. Patrice Bergeron scored that goal too, and we jumped up in my family room. We cheered. We yelled. My son went nuts! We high-fived! I asked, yelling loudly, “Are you kidding me?!? Are you kidding me?!? That was my team that just won this way?!?!?!? I can’t believe what I just saw!!!” Wow.
I say it often, NHL Playoff hockey is the best thing going in sports. It’s just plain phenomenal! I am looking forward to the second round for all the teams, especially for my team, the Bruins.