First and foremost I would like to start out by saying that I attended the New York Yankees/Toronto Blue Jays game last night in Toronto. I am more and more amazing by how incredible Toronto is everytime I travel up north. The people of Toronto are very friendly and helpful if need be and I Thank You Torontonians. (Torontonians sounded good so I went with it)
Last week I wrote a blog talking about the Greatest game you have ever been to. I loved all your feed back and responses. Those were all great games and memories for you to hold on to for a long time. Now its time to talk about the Hockey memories that gave you the most heartache throughout your time as a fan of your respected teams.
What was the most heartbreaking game you have ever been to?
Here is mine:
As a life long Buffalo Sabres fan I have had the priviledge to attend many Sabres games at the Memorial Auditorium and The HSBC arena. I have been able to see some great Hockey action throughout the years and some games that will last in my memory for a long time. Luckily enough, I have not attended many games that ended in heartache until this past season...
2007 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 vs The Ottawa Senators.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon on May 19th 2007 in Downtown Buffalo. The Sabres had just hung on to their playoff lives by winning a 3-2 contest in Ottawa at game 4 a couple nights prior. The Sabres faithful had no doubt in their minds that this special group of Hockey talent were going to be only the third team in NHL history to come back after being down 3 games to 0.
I work roughly 10 blocks away from the HSBC arena and decided to go into work early saturday morning for some OT before heading down and meeting my friend for game 5. I had plenty of work to do but I could not focus as just a few blocks away their was a party in the plaza taking place and I felt like I had to be apart of it. I walk out of my office building and turn to my right, all I see is the top of the arena and the big white letters that read HSBC ARENA. I dont even think twice and instead of getting in my car to park closer, I begin to walk down Washington Avenue.
I am almost in front of the HSBC arena (Which was a much longer walk then expected) and I can finally hear a band playing and fans cheering. The Party in the Plaza had already begun. For those who dont know, The party in the plaza takes place outside the arena roughly 2 and a half hours before game time. The band begins to play the Goo Goo Dolls song "Better Days" which is also the song used during the Sabres montage at the beginning of games. You cant help but sing along with everyone which gives you goose bumps.
My friend finally meets up with me and we decide to go in and get to our seats. We get to our seats in the 300 level and though its a bit early you still cant help but feel the electricity in the air. "Lets Go Sabres" chants are being started along with a few Senators fans shouting "Go Sens Go" which in turn makes Buffalo fans get that much louder. I know its getting closer to game time because I cant even think about a bite to eat or getting something to drink cause my stomach starts going in knots as if I was actually going to be playing in the game.
It was a scoreless 1st period with shots even at 7. Both teams were waiting for the other to make a mistake and then capitalize on that mistake by putting it in the back of the net. The first mistake was made by Ottawa as Ray Emery couldnt clear the puck and Jochen Hecht buried a back hand chance 4:30 into the 2nd period to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead. The HSBC arena was shaking to its foundation. It stayed that way until the last 5 minutes of the period when Dany Heatley tied the game at 15:41 and Jason Spezza gave the Senators the lead on a 2 on 1 break late in the second period with only 19 seconds left.
During the 2nd intermission you could almost hear a pin drop as the Sens had the lead and momentum going into the 3rd period. The Sens had the game almost in the bag until penalties started to hurt them. At 8:55 Volchenkov took a 2 min tripping call followed by Schubert with a slashing call at 9:25 of the final frame to give Buffalo a 2 man advantage. Though Buffalo's powerplay had been non existent, they had to capitalize on this opportunity.
The face off is won by Buffalo and eventually the puck goes to Tim Connolly at the point in which he skates up and lets it rip. The puck bounces off of Wade Reddens glove and hits Co-Captain Chris Drury in the face. A silent hush goes over the crowd and the trainers come rushing onto the ice to check out the fallen leader. He is not down for more then split seconds before he pops back up and is taken to the locker room.
As the first powerplay expired, Al Kotalik took a rocket of a shot from the point in which went wide. Thomas Vanek then takes the puck and trys to gun it in short side to which Danny Briere turns around and hits the left goal post. Standing and waiting with a wide open net is Maxim Afinogenov who burys the puck into the net at 10:58 of the third to tie the game at 2. All momentum is back on Buffalo's side.
With roughly 3 minutes to go Thomas Vanek comes in on goal and while in front of the net puts the puck into the net to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead....wait a minute....Mike Comrie "skates" into the goal post and knocks off the net to which caused a delay of game penalty turning out to be the smartest play Comrie made all series.
The play goes to Overtime...score is tied at 2 and the fans are starting to get restless. The jumbotron shows the Sabres bench and the only Sabre on the screen is #23 Chris Drury. With a helmet protecting his jaw, Drury is back and the fans give a standing ovation to applaud the efforts of our Co-Captain which also gives the Sabres some much needed momentum back as the Sens had owned the OT session to that point.
The other Sabre highlight of the overtime period was a save made by Ryan Miller. I will still never understand how Jason Spezza did not score. diving across the wide open net and robbing a point blank shot from Spezza....INCREDIBLE. Inside the arena we all thought it was going to review and that it was in. With the return of Drury and the save by Miller, there is no way we are going to lose right?
How Ironic is it that a year ago Jason Pominville comes in short handed goes around Alfie and beats Emery to advance the Sabres to the ECF and a year later Daniel Alfredson comes in 1 on 3 and takes a shot that looked saveable and beats Ryan Miller to advance the Sens to their first ever Stanley Cup Final. Revenge is sweet and sometimes bitter sweet.
The expectation of the 06/07 Buffalo Sabres was nothing short of a Stanley Cup victory and to be ousted in the ECF to the hated Senators hurt. Still, not 30 seconds after Alfie scores do us Sabre fans give a standing ovation for our boys for an incredible season.
I hope you enjoyed!!!