Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Wheels Stay on the Band Wagon

Unbelievable! The 15-year drought is finally over! The Calgary Flames have awakened true Hockey Fever in the Stampede City once again...

It was an intense ending to an intense series. The six games leading up to last night were all about gritty, physical play and Game 7 was no different. It was a tale of two teams... Vancouver, looking to regain the spark from earlier in the season... Calgary, desperately needing to get the monkey off their back by finally winning a playoff series... The Canucks, showing their composure under pressure as only the "Cardiac Kids" can... The Flames, refusing to give in to the odds-makers and settle for an early golf season...

Both teams played equally well throughout the course of the game, but Calgary managed to secure a one-goal lead coming into the final minutes of regulation time. Then, an undisciplined penalty in front of the Calgary net put Vancouver Canuck Ed Jovanovski into the penalty box... Vancouver pulled their goalie in favor of the extra attacker... Calgary's tight defense caused a turn-over at the Calgary blue line... With 20 seconds left in the game, Jarome Iginla raced for the empty net, checked by the Vancouver defense... A weak shot that grazed the outside of the post... No worries, the clock was ticking down and Calgary could feel the victory coming. I was literally on the edge of my seat. And then the world turned upside down.

Vancouver regained possession of the puck and made a dash for Calgary territory. Iginla, back checking, had his stick knocked from his hands and, in very uncharacteristic fashion, tripped over it and fell. The Canucks charged into the zone and, with only 5.7 seconds remaining, managed to slide the equalizer past Miika Kiprusoff.

Heartbreak... Anger... Disappointment... Betrayal...

I went through the entire range of emotions as I watched that puck cross the line. In fact, I vowed that I would never again cheer for the Calgary Flames if they lost that game. I know, that makes me a fairweather fan, but let's face it, 15 years of letdown is hard to overcome!

Amazingly, Calgary began the overtime period with lots of jump and made good use of the remaining penalty minutes given to Jovanovski. This city erupted in celebration as Martin Gelinas put away the game winner in only 1 minute and 25 seconds.

So, the Flames advance to meet the mighty Detroit Red Wings and it's the Canucks who will be swinging their golf clubs in frustration... The Band wagon rolls on...
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