Hello everyone, thought I'd introduce myself to the blog with the story of how I spent the Finals last year. It was one of the most rewarding sports experiences of my life.
I grew up in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Been a Pens fan my entire life. I remember going to one of my first games back in the mid 80's and watching Rod Buskas's nose get plastered on the glass right in front of me. Oh, the good old days when you could get a seat right on the ice for nothing! Anyhow, I joined the Air Force and met my wonderful wife while there, and although she is wonderful....she convinced me to move to Michigan with her. I'm now in the Michigan Air National Guard, and last year during the finals I was deployed in the Middle East with my unit.
Needless to say, I was the only Pens fan. All I heard about was how this year was going to be just like last year. During the Game 5 nightmare, I was flying and didn't know the score until I got back from my flight. Of course, as soon as I landed, one of the many Red Wings fans instantly told me that they had destroyed us 5-0. The series was over, and they were ALL rubbing it in my face. No way could the Pens come back from being down 3-1, especially now that Datsyuk was back. The season was over, and another cup was coming to Hockeytown. I told them all that they better not get too cocky, because in sports...especially hockey, it's not over until the final game is finished.
After Game 6, I could feel the unease of everyone I was with. My unit filmed a little short video of everyone cheering on the Red Wings (which of course I didn't participate in) and it was actually played during Game 7 up in the Detroit area. Everyone continued to make fun of me, but I could sense that they were a bit scared.
Game 7 was a surreal experience. Luckily I wasn't flying that day, and me and about 20 Red Wings fans packed into a small room to watch the inevitable coronation of the latest Red Wings dynasty. When Max made it 1-0, the entire room went silent. Then when he made it 2-0, you could almost feel them giving up. When Detroit scored their only goal, they began to get cocky again. Of course they were going to come back. In the 3rd when that shot hit the crossbar, it was one of the funniest moments of my life. Everyone saw all the fans in the Joe jump up, so of course everyone jumped up and turned around and screamed at me. When I finally convinced them that it had not gone in, and it had hit the crossbar, they all sat down and didn't say much the rest of the game.
I spent that final faceoff and flurry on my knees, and when Flower made that stop on Lindstrom, the tears started to flow. Within minutes the room was empty other than me and a few good sports. Watching Sid lift that Cup on the Wings home ice was a moment I'll never forget!
Anyhow, sorry about the wall of text. Just thought that story might interest someone out there. Great blog, and hope to contribute to it much more in the future. Go Pens!