Posted by Brandon Alandt
I’ve never been in love the way the movies portray it, but I’ve been in love. I’ve felt butterflies in anticipation. I’ve had my heart broken and I’ve had moments of pure elation. This isn’t a boy-meets-girl story; this is a boy-meets-sport story.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams
A very unpredictable series of events happened in my life starting when I was nine years old. I moved to the basketball capital of the world which initiated a slow yet massive cascade that eventually led me to be – wait for it – a hockey fan.
I recently re-watched the series-clinching game 5 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals between the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings. I’ve seen it before. If forever reason you put a gun to my head and told me to give you a play-by-play of the game I probably could, although I didn’t watch it live outside of maybe a few occasional glimpses at the TV. I was probably playing with Lego’s, but during that time my hockey fandom was conceived.
My family that had been living in our North Carolina suburb for a year when the series started. As Wings fans, were deep behind enemy lines. My dad’s family resides just outside of the Motor City. Somewhere around the archives of my parents’ house there are pictures of me as an infant in Red Wings apparel. To this day I’m thankful it wasn’t the Lions. So incredibly thankful.
The moments I watched I noticed the two goaltenders, Dominik Hasek and Arturs Irbe. They were diving all over the place keeping the puck out of their respective nets in incredible fashion. They looked like warriors in their massive pads, and they’re why I began to fall in love with the sport and why this blog even exists.
There is just under four minutes left in the game. The score is 2-1 in favor of the Red Wings. This is twelve years later, and my heart is still racing. I knew the outcome. Right now I’m more than twice my age at the time this game was being played, but it’s still so damn exhilarating to me. With 45 seconds left the crowd at Joe Louis Arena erupts as Brendan Shanahan tucks the puck into an empty goal from center ice. He immediately gets a tackling embrace from my all-time sports hero Steve Yzerman. Game over. Anxiety is replaced by Goosebumps. It happens every single time. It’s not often you get that kind of exhilaration, but it’s because of those moments you continue being a fan. It’s why you continue to be in love.
As years passed I found myself in a growing obsession. I would always grab a newspaper during my school’s “Drop Everything and Read” period every day to check box scores and statistics from the night before. I was a 13-year-old boy who wasn’t staying up until 1 a.m. talking on the phone, but watching games being played on the west coast. I would wake up only four hours later to get ready for school, and it was all worth it to me.
It’s easy to see in hindsight where our lives start to stray away from course they once appeared to be taking, but as it plays out, life is really all just a series of insignificant moments that eventually turn out to be something completely significant. Just like Lego’s.