Saturday, April 28, 2012

2-1 in 508 redux

Those who read the Epilogue to The Madness of March might remember that this last section describes my attending a Stanley Cup Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. That game remains to this date, the most thrilling sporting event I ever watched in person. The Rangers led 1-0, before the Devils tied the game with less than ten seconds to play. The Rangers eventually prevailed in double overtime 2-1.

That night I sat in a section I called section 508 in the book. There is no section 508 at the Garden but since a large portion of the Epilogue described some of the fanatics who sit in that area I did not want to seem to be disparaging those fans. To the contrary my point, which I hope was obvious to readers, was that these people who seem like fanatics have just found a way to invest their emotional energy in a way that is, to my way of thinking, mostly healthy.

Last Thursday night I again was invited down to New York to see a game 7 in the Stanley Cup. The Rangers were playing the Ottawa Senators. For a second time, in a game 7, I got to sit in section "508" and watch with the rabid Ranger faithful a thrilling game.

Of the four major sports, hockey is my least favorite. I do not follow the game during the regular season and can not tell anyone the names of the teams or even how many divisions are in each conference. However, I will write as I have before that there is nothing more thrilling than playoff hockey. And no playoff hockey like a 7th game.

The game on Thursday was a real hold your breath affair from the start. The faithful, nearly all wearing a Ranger shirt, arrived into the section nodding to the regulars, chatting with nervous faux optimism. I donned a Ranger shirt myself for the occasion and proudly wore it throughout the contest. I saw some of the same people I recalled from 18 years ago. The fellow to my right shaking back and forth almost from the opening faceoff. There may be fair weather fans somewhere in the Garden, but the people in 508 are the real deal. Serious and knowledgeable followers of their beloved New York Rangers.

As was the case 18 years ago, the Rangers took a one goal lead into the third period. This time they held on. However, the third period was enough to make anyone a lifelong hockey enthusiast. For five of the last 7 minutes the Senators had the puck down in the Ranger end and continuously pummelled the goalie, threatening to tie the game. It was not until the Senators were called for a penalty with about one minute to play when you could hear Madison Square Garden exhale.

 It was a joyous group of people who high fived each other as they watched the combatants shake hands at the end. As I walked to the parking garage at the end of the evening still wearing my Ranger shirt a number of people on the street raised their fists in triumph. One couple who spoke with a different accent stopped me and asked, "What was the result." I told them that the Rangers won 2-1.

 2-1 in 508 Redux.

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