So tonight MSG is airing Game Five of the 2006 Ottawa-Buffalo series. I didn't catch a lot of this game for reasons spelled out below and I since I doubt many of you have seen it since, being early in the DVR-era and all, I figured I would give a live blog the college try. Also, there's no other hockey to comment on and what am I going to do, take a crack at the Bills? Fuck that noise. If the live-blog has some hiccups, it will be up tomorrow as a retro-retro live blog. This game has nostalgic connotations for me and in order to keep myself from pontificating on them when I should be discussing the game itself, I'm getting them out of the way here beforehand.
That may seem trite, hyperbole, but I haven’t married or spawned so hear me out. Two nights earlier I stood in St. Bonaventure’s campus bar, clutching my apartment’s broom and sucking down an alarming amount of fifty cent drafts. It was Senior week, the campus barren except for the class of 2006, left with nothing much to do but drink, barbeque, attend various social functions (more drinking), and watch hockey. The night before, dozens of us crammed up against a bar watching the overtime of game three on a tiny corner television where JP Dumont scored, sending the Clubhouse at the campus golf course into euphoria. Could it happen? Could we really beat the Senators?
Not in game four, and that broom ended up broken in half (graduation was three days off, what the fuck would I need it for?). It would be back to Ottawa for Game five.
Why didn't I watch the game? Well for starters, my parents had come down and her cousins from just over the hill in Pennsylvania wanted to take us out to dinner (in 2006 Olean this meant Applebee’s). I tried as best I could to discern what was happening on the television some thirty feet away at the bar while at the same time being polite. My extended family gave my mom and I Penn State apparel in honor of starting law school in the fall and the first period ended in a tie. When we all parted at intermission, I promised we would be staying in town that night; it was cold, raining badly. Instead, my girlfriend and I headed to the hills near Ellicottville for a party with my high school friends.
I remember squeezing into a tiny antique bench that couldn’t have been meant for actual use because there were so many people in the living room. I remember the storm making the MSG feed cut out and someone having to pound on the cable box to get it to return. I remember playing asshole during the third intermission and into overtime, keeping an eye on the television and preparing myself to enjoy the rest of this final night in college with second consecutive loss.
I remember the play, the eruption of the house, the screaming, the hugging, the unbridled joy felt by everyone there. I remember the look of bemused excitement on the girl who had been introduced to this fanaticism throughout the highs and lows of the season.
I remember many of us heading out in our boxers in the rain and taking the slip and slide down the hill, hoping simply that we wouldn’t carom into the guest house or stones at the bottom. I remember pouring a funnel for a friend and saying “Eastern Conference Finals, man,” in disbelief.
I remember heading back to Allegany, to the house I spent a sizable amount of nights drinking and smoking that year. I remember standing in the backyard with those people that I shared the best years of my life with, classmates, roommates, teammates, basking in the bittersweetness of our ride together coming to a close and the sweetness of the team whose ride we felt was just beginning. I remember hugs and handshakes and my girlfriend saying to me “Matt, we have to go to bed- you graduate in like three hours.”
I remember no one had left.