This is my submission into the Journalism Dream Contest for the Globe and Mail. Go Here and vote for me:
The number 12 jersey slung on over his shoulder pads, the captains "C" prominently displayed over his heart.
All that embodies leadership, courage and the eternal drive to win is present in everything Jarome Iginla does.
“GO FLAMES GO! GO FLAMES GO! GO FLAMES GO!”
The roars from the Saddledome crowd drown out the thoughts of any of the players.
No one in the dressing room speaks. Looks are exchanged. The mission is simple: Win.
Up three games to two in the Stanley Cup Final, the Calgary Flames are on the verge of breaking a 15 year long championship drought, on the heels of one of the most unexpected playoff drives in recent memory.
It has all led to this moment - a chance to have a childhood dream come true as memories race by of skating in the backyard ponds scoring the winning goal for the Stanley Cup; memories that are mere seconds away from becoming a reality.
Iginla leads the team of wounded soldiers onto home ice for the final time this season. The opponents, the heavily favoured Tampa Bay Lightning, with their backs up against the wall, are willing to do anything to extend the series back home.
The sea of red sends shivers down the spines of every player.
The anthems are sung and the curtains are raised on this all important game of hockey.
A tentative beginning to the game and the 1st period ends in a scoreless draw.
Fans discuss what needs to happen for the Flames to come out victorious.
“Pressure the defence.” One fan says.
“Shoot more.” Another cries.
“Get more traffic in front of Khabibulin.” Numerous fans lament.
The second period provides some goal scoring. Two goals from each team; the score is tied yet again.
The final period looms. Possibly twenty minutes away from re-writing the history books.
It happened in an instant, too fast for most people in attendance to see; a fantastic scoring opportunity for Martin Gelinas apparently thwarted by the Tampa goaltender. Or was it the other way around? Certain replays show that the puck could have crossed the line, yet the play was never reviewed, leaving Flames fans to wonder “What if?” for years to come.
The game goes into overtime where a former Flame, Martin St. Louis, destroys the hopes of Flames fans everywhere. No chance now of seeing the cup awarded to the Flames on Saddledome ice for the first time ever. So close, yet so far away.
Iginla and Flames would travel to Tampa for game 7. With little gas still left in the tank the Flames would fall 2-1.
A chance missed.
Who knows when a chance like this will ever come around again?
Iginla can not describe the pain of this loss. A player who wears his heart on his sleeve every time he hits the ice, now is left to wonder if that was his only chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup.