The Rangers' win after a shootout was almost as thrilling as what happened next.
J. Pat Carter/AP
The other night as I was leaving my son's room, I noticed a hockey puck sitting on his desk. It reminded me not only of an exciting hockey game he and I had attended several years ago, but of a life lesson he had learned as well.
During spring vacation from school, a friend had given us two tickets to a New York Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden. He had season tickets, but could not use them on that particular night and he generously offered them to us. My son was very excited because he is an avid Rangers fan and we had only been able to attend a game in person twice before.
The seats were spectacular, as near to the rink as we had ever been. When the players came up against the boards, we could see them as closely as we could when we watch the game on television.
The roar of the crowd was incredible right from the moment the puck was dropped. When the Rangers scored first, the crowd chanted the word "go-al" as if it had more than one syllable. My son got caught up in the moment and enthusiastically joined in the serenade. When the Rangers scored a second time, it seemed as if the building would explode from the noise. Three young men sitting in the row in front of us, probably in their early 20s, caught my eye as my son sang along with the crowd. They smiled at us. We were all one happy and excited hockey family.
But then, the unexpected happened. The other team scored four goals in rapid succession, and all of a sudden our beloved Rangers were losing 4 to 2. The crowd that had been so crazed with enthusiasm for the home team fell silent. Despite more than 17,000 people in the arena, it was quiet enough to hear yourself think, as well as the mutterings of many unhappy and disgruntled fans.
What makes sporting events so interesting and exciting is that anything can happen in any given game. This night was no exception. The Rangers made a furious comeback in the third period, eventually tying the game at four goals apiece shortly before the end. Following an overtime period with no scoring, the teams then went into a shootout, a tie-breaking procedure in which each team takes turns sending out a player to go one-on-one against the other team's goalie in front of the net. And on this magical night, the Rangers did not disappoint, capturing the victory as one of their leading goal scorers sent the puck flying past the opposing goalie's outstretched arms for the win.