Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Unyielding Faith

Ok, so this won't be a bucket list post. It also won't be a post about religion like the title might lend you to believe. For 15 years my family has followed and supported the Phoenix Coyotes, and like all Arizona sports its been rather difficult to do at times (I like to refer to the Gretzky years as "the dark ages"). This year though, I knew we had something special. We have a great coach in Dave Tippett. We acquired a Vezina caliber goalie in Mike Smith. We have one of the classiest, hardest working captains in Dhane Doan, and a whole crew of hard working players to back all of them up. We dont have an owner. The NHL owns the team, and so far we've proven that you don't need an owner to win games. In all of franchise history, (even going back to the Winnepeg days) the team has never won their division. Until this year when they became the Pacific Division Champions. In all of franchise history, the team has never made it past the first round of the playoffs. Until last night. The Coyotes were matched up against the Chicago Blackhawks for round one. I was confident that we could beat them since our record against them was really good in the regular season. However, every hockey fan knows that once the race for the cup starts, all of that flies out the window. It wasn't easy to take down the Blackhawks. They're a very talented team, and The United Center is famous for being one of the toughest arenas to play in because of how intense their fans are. For whatever reason, the United Center didn't phase the Coyotes. After winning last night they were 5-0 in Chicago this season. The series went six games. The teams set a record when their first 5 games went to over time. It was a physical series. During game 2, Chicago's Andrew Shaw was suspended for 3 games after putting an illegal hit on Phoenix goalie Mike Smith. Luckily for the Coyotes their superstar goalie was not badly injured and was able to finish the game. Then in game 3 the Coyotes lost Raffi Torres after he put an illegal hit on Marion Hossa. It was pretty scary as Hossa wasn't as lucky as Smith. He had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and was sent to the hospital at Northwestern almost immediately. He left the hospital that night, but is now out indefinitely with a head injury. Torres got a 25 game suspension, so he'll miss the rest of the post-season and part of next season. The Coyotes had a 3 games to 1 lead going into game 5. It was a home game, and my brother and I were really hoping they'd be able to put the series to bed at home where we could be there to see it happen live. It wasn't in the cards though. After going into overtime yet again, the Blackhwks were able to pull out the win. That brings us to last nights game 6. I actually missed watching the majority of the game due to a prior engagement, but from what I hear, it was a doosie! I did get home just in time to see time run out and the celebration that ensued. I got chills, and I also got a little teary-eyed. The team flies home tomorrow to prepare for round two against the Nashville Predators. They will likely arrive to a huge crowd of fans, and I wish I didn't have to work so that I could be there to help welcome them home. Regardless of what happens next, I will never forget all of the milestones that were achieved so far this year. However, I have faith that this tem has what it takes to go all the way. We'll just keep believing and playing "hockey the hard way" and it will all pay off in the end. Stay tuned, because you know I'll keep you updated and what happens next!

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