By: Chris Long
It is the night of Thursday, October 13. The night I have been looking forward to since last May. The sun just went down and the clock is ticking, but not fast enough. 7:58…7:59…finally it’s 8:00. For at last it’s time for hockey, and not just any hockey, Carolina Hurricanes hockey!
Yes, it’s true: the ‘Canes have been terrible the last few years, but this year will be different. I can feel it. There are so many reasons for optimism, so many reasons for hope. The young defense corps, combined with the new forwards that were brought in, will make the ‘Canes unstoppable. This year will be the year that we finally make the playoffs, and on a selfish note, we need to make the playoffs this year, one last time before I go off to college.
The puck drops in Winnipeg and the season is underway. The ‘Canes give up the first goal, but it’s alright. They respond by killing off a long two-man disadvantage, then score a goal to tie it up just before the first intermission. They then kill the second period, and take a 3-1 lead to the locker room and the second intermission. The third period looks like it’s off to a good start. Forward Victor Rask scores to make it a three goal lead, but then everything comes crashing down. Just 9 seconds after Rask makes it 4-1, the Jets score a shorty and all of a sudden the ‘Canes have lost all momentum. Before I know it, the Jets have tied the score-they did what? Yep, it’s 4-4 and that 3 goal lead is history. The broadcast goes to commercial, a short time to catch my breath before overtime starts. Overtime begins and less than 3 minutes into period, the game is over. The bad guys won. I watch in silence as the MTS Centre in Winnipeg explodes, the opening night crowd overjoyed that their team was able to come back. The Hurricanes’ broadcast shows the team, heads down, walking single file into the locker room just before I turn off the TV and go into my room to finish my homework.
As deflated as I am, I know that there are still reasons for optimism. The meer fact that the ‘Canes scored four goals should make any Hurricanes fan perk up. Also, even though the ‘Canes lost, they still get a point in the playoff standings since they lost in overtime. “It’s okay,” I tell myself, “there are still 81 games left.”
Fast forward three days. The ‘Canes are still in western Canada but now they are at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The game starts at 10:00pm, and it’s a Sunday. I make a deal with myself that I will watch the first period and then go to bed, and what a first period it was! Victor Rask sniped a goal past the Canucks goalie, and Teuvo Teravainen scored a power play goal with less than a minute left in the period. With a 2-0 lead I went to bed feeling pretty confident. “What a luxury it is that the ‘Canes are finally scoring goals,” I thought. The next morning the first thing I did after waking up was check the score. Expecting to see the Hurricanes’ record 1-0-1, I was deflated to see that they had done nothing more than blow another 3 goal lead to lose in overtime. My friend who watched the entire game told me that it was a near carbon copy to opening night in Winnipeg. The defense folded and the home team; the bad guys stole the win.
As I go forward with the rest of my day, I have already forgotten about the game. It’s onto the next one. The cycle of being a fan continues. I will never give up on this team; they are my team. Do I still have faith? Yes, I always will. I will keep the faith until the Hurricanes are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Am I still positive about this season? Yeah, I guess. Will I continue to support my hometown team, the only professional team that is based in Raleigh? Absolutely. I am a fan, and that’s what we do. I will continue to watch the games instead of doing homework, I will continue to stay up late when the team goes on a west coast trip, and I will continue to be caught up in the emotional roller coaster that is being a fan of the Carolina Hurricanes.