Never in a million years did I envision myself writing this column.
As an avid sports fan my entire life, I never got into hockey. My hometown of Indianapolis doesn’t have a professional team, so I had no rooting interest growing up.
I admittedly know very little about the game and have been indifferent my entire life. I can’t name more than 20 active hockey players and barely know what icing is.
But anyone who loves sports couldn’t help but be on the edge of their seats during Game 7 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks series.
The passion, the intensity, the drama, the never-say-die attitude-it was everything I love about sports.
The eighth-seeded Hawks battled back from down 3-0 to force a decisive Game 7 against the best team in the NHL’s Western Conference.
I watched the game Tuesday night at a buddy’s house surrounded by Chicago fans. The Canucks took an early 1-0 lead and the Blackhawks failed to answer in the second period.
As the minutes ticked off the clock in the final period, no one spoke. Everyone knew the implications. Without a game-tying goal, the season was over.
Shot after painstaking shot was skillfully blocked by Canucks’ goalie Roberto Luongo. It appeared the hero in goal for the gold medal-winning Canadians would once again beat an American team.
But for every save from Luongo, the Hawks’ Corey Crawford answered with a miraculous one of his own. Back and forth, the teams went forward refusing to let up.
And, yet, in stark contrast to the sold out Rogers Arena, there was nothing but silence in the room.
The magnitude of the game had everyone glued to the TV. Not a peep was heard.
With just 3:17 remaining, Chicago’s Duncan Keith was sent to the penalty box for two minutes with the Hawks still trailing by a goal.
The season appeared to be slipping away.
But the Blackhawks’ captain still had some magic up his sleeve.
Despite being a man down, Jonathan Toews raced down the ice, split two defenders and passed to an open Marian Hossa in front of the net. Hossa’s shot was saved by Luongo but Toews was there for the put back to tie the game.
In a split second, the room went from dead silence to an eruption of emotion. I was jumping up and down like a diehard fan. I wouldn’t care less if the Blackhawks never won another game, but for that moment in time I was just another Chicago fan.
All the momentum was with the Hawks. They appeared destined for victory. But just minutes into overtime the Canucks’ Alexandre Burrows scored.
Twenty minutes earlier, Hawks fans were celebrating a game-tying goal, now the season was over.
The highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a blink of an eye.
There aren’t many things in this world that can bring a room full of people from pure elation to utter disappointment in a matter of moments. This game reminded me of why I love sports so much.
Both teams gave their all and refused to give an inch to the opponent. The hustle, determination and will to win. Most of all, it reminded me of the raw emotions that makes sports so exciting.
Being a sports fan is a roller coaster ride, but for every disappointment, there is a Toews goal in Game 7 that keeps bringing you back.
Alex Ross is a sophomore sports communication major from Fishers, Ind. He is the Scout sports editor.
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