Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Lord Stanley's Cup has been Raised Again

Another hockey season has drawn to a close. And the Carolina Hurricanes are the new champs. With many people counting them out after their catastrophic collapse in Game 5 (after a wild, back and forth game, Fernando Pisani scored a short-handed overtime goal, giving the Oilers the win) and a Game 6 in which it looked like Carolina didn't even bother to show up (final score was 4-0 for the Oilers), the Hurricanes made a point of being aggressive early in Game 7. And it paid off, when Aaron Ward scored only 1:26 into the game. The 1st Period play was pretty well dominated by the Hurricanes, but Edmonton goalie Jussi Markkanen stopped the rest of their shots, keeping the score 1-0. On an early 2nd Period power play, however, Frantisek Kaberle gave the 'Canes what would be the winning goal.

The rest of the game was my favorite kind - smash-mouth hockey. As my roommate so delicately put it, at any given time, there were at least four men with their asses on the ice. We were watching the game at a bar, and there were so many shouts of "ooohhh!" and "ouch!" from the other people, there were times you couldn't even hear the game. And I loved every minute of it!

Early in the 3rd Period, Edmonton scored to make it 2-1, when Game 5 hero Fernando Pisani beat Carolina goalie Cam Ward, knocking a rebound in - just before Pisani crashed the net (and Ward). From there, the game just got harder and meaner. Players from each team were sent flying on nearly every play, eliciting even more shouts and cries from the bar crowd.

Carolina destroyed any hopes Edmonton might have had of a dramatic comeback late in the period, however. Edmonton pulled their goalie, for an extra attacker, with about 1:40 left in the game. 39 seconds later, Carolina right winger Justin Williams (amazing - a hockey players with an easy name to say and spell!) broke away at the Edmonton blue line, streaking in for the easy empty net goal. Final score 3-1 Carolina.

While I was cheering for the Oilers (hey, if my Avalanche are out, I might as well still root for my division), I have to give credit and congratulations to Carolina. This is their first Stanley Cup (they lost to the Detroit Redwings in 5 games in 2002) and they played like they wanted it. All things considered, it was probably one of the best games I've ever seen and definitely one of the best Stanley Cup Finals I've watched. So, Carolina, here's to you. Enjoy the celebration - you've earned it!

(All images are from NHL.com)

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