Last night, I had the time of my life.
Just like Baby in “Dirty Dancing.” Except instead of Johnny Castle, I had Tim Thomas.
Thanks to a one very awesome friend, I was at Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals at TD Garden.
Bruins shutout the Canucks, 4-0 to even the series 2-2. Series returns to Vancouver for Game 5 on Friday.
Attending the Stanley Cup Finals is a dream for any hockey fan, including me. It was very high on my bucket list, right up there with seeing the pyramids and making out with Ben Affleck.
But I never thought that it would ACTUALLY happen.
That was until last night.
So how did I get there? How did I come to check this off my bucket list? And what did it feel like when I did?
[ It's sort long but bear with me. Get it? Bear. :-) ]
I have a friend from high school. His name is Smitty. It’s really Kevin, but pretty sure that his mom and his wife are the only ones who call him Kevin (but of that I can’t really be sure). Smitty is a high school teacher and hockey coach and like me, a life long Bruin fan, and fan of the sport in general.
The man had a Stanley Cup groom’s cake at his wedding. Clearly, this man is our hero.
Smitty emails me Monday morning.
I message him back immediately.
My response reads something like: “COUNT ME IN! Holy #@%*. I love you! How much are the tickets? Oh really? That much? Whatever. That’s cool. I’ll just eat ramen for a month.”
I get all light-headed. Have to sit down. *deep breath*
Wednesdays are grad school days for me, but fortunately my professor is a sports psychologist and hockey fan, so he was very understanding when I told him I had to leave early because I was going to Game 4.
As I make my way down Canal Street to the Garden, I am engulfed in a sea of black and gold…with bit of white and blue mixed in.
The closer I get to the Garden, the more my heart starts to flutter.
I’m really here.
This is really happening.
Before heading to our seats (in Club Section 145, no less), quick stop is made at the Bruins Pro Shop. One must mark this occasion with SCF accoutrements, including a t-shirt and banner.
Now, my office looks even better.
Finally we make to our seats and the significance of the moment finally hits me.
I made it. I’m at the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Stanley Cup Finals are a special sporting event, but it takes on a whole new meaning and significance when your team are the ones playing for it.
From warm-ups to the announcement of the Three Stars, the atmosphere in the Garden was super-charged, like a summer thunderstorm.
Every single person in that arena was sending out the most positive beautiful energy that it is hard to believe how the players couldn’t feel it seeping through the walls into the locker room.
Every time Nathan Horton’s name was mentioned or they showed a fan wearing his jersey, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. In only his first season as a Bruin, NH18 has made his mark as a fan favorite and the outpouring of love from the Black and Gold faithful has to help speed up his recover.
Bruins legend Bobby Orr (#4) was the honorary flag bearer for the start of the game. Fittingly, he waved Horton’s flag, as a salute to the injured Bruins forward.
Genius move, Bruins. Way to lift the crowd to an whole other level of controlled frenzy.
(Sidenote: Bobby Orr is like 65, but he is still WAY hot.)
The game itself was everything that one could hope for in a SCF game…unless you are a Canucks fan. The Green Men were very sad.
The Bruins were dominant, controlled, quick to the puck.
Their penalty kill continues to shine (21 for 22 in this series).
Bruins D-fence remains dominant in shutting down Vancouver’s offensive threats. I think it is because of Adam McQuaid’s mullet. That thing is glorious and magical.
Tim Thomas’s Vezina stock continues to rise with every acrobatic, heart-stopping save that he makes. The man is a beast, albeit a fluffy, smiley beast. I just want to hug him so tight.
They showed Marc Savard on the jumbotron. The place went nuts. Please come back soon. I miss you.
They showed Rachel McAdams on the jumbotron. A lot. Couldn’t tell if she was rooting for the Bruins or the Canucks, but she looked like she was having fun, so that’s cool.
Going to a Stanley Cup Finals game is a once in a lifetime experience but to be able to experience it with your hometown team, on home ice, is something entirely transcendental.
It leaves you with a feeling of elation. Of glee. Of passion. Of adoration. Of worship.
And most of all, of pride.