Sunday, 14 August 2011

My Favorite Hockey Moments

Earlier this week, The Hockey News' Rory Boylen wrote an article about some of the top hockey moments in history, which got me thinking about my favorite moments. And as it turns out, his and my top moment is the same one. As much as I've been through already, Winter Classics, the Olympics, the Stanley Cup final, interning for THN, everything starts with Ray Bourque accepting the Stanley Cup from Joe Sakic in 2001. It isn't my first hockey memory, that would be a Flyers 2-1 win over the Bruins at the old Spectrum back in the shortened 1995 season, that is the game that got me hooked on the sport. I was only 12 at the time and hardly knew anything of Bourque's career, but the humble gesture from Sakic and the passion in Bourque's eyes immediately turned me into a hockey junkie.

Every other event I've seen, been to or been a part of have all been a result of that moment, making it my top moment no matter what. But that is far from being the only great moment I have ever lived through. Obviously being at a game in person is way better than watching one on TV, so I doubt anything can top the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. There were so many great moments, each game was an absolute wonder, I can't list them all, but here are a couple of personal highlights.

  • Alex Ovechkin's hit on Jaromir Jagr
  • Peter Forsberg's last point in North America, an assist on a goal by Patric Hornqvist against Slovakia.
  • Shannon Szabados' glove hand in the women's gold medal game, one of the best goaltending performances I have ever seen.
  • Team USA's complete dominance over Finland in the semifinal, scoring six goals in the first 12:46 and coasting to an easy 6-1 victory to get to the gold medal game.
  • Tim Thomas' realization of a dream come true and participating in Olympic hockey at the end of that same game. 
There are plenty of other moments there, I would list every moment of action if I could, but let's move on shall we?

I was a big football fan when I was younger and I always wanted to go to a game whoile it was snowing. Those games in Foxborough and Green Bay looked magical on TV and would be an epic event to be a part of. That finally happened on Jan. 1, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY, though I never thought it would be for a hockey game. Out of the four Winter Classics, the snow globe effect and Sidney Crosby shootout winner made for a remarkable day of hockey in what was surely one of the greatest sights to behold in NHL history. 

I have watched the Flyers force Game 7 against the Bruins during their epic comeback in 2010; the Chicago Blackhawks end the longest Cup drought in NHL history (I'll admit, my vision was blurry at the end of the night); Keith Primeau almost single-handedly force Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 in the most determined performance I have witnessed; Simon Gagne beat Atlanta on a penalty shot with a minute to go from the bowels of the Wachovia Center moments before winning a Primeau autographed, game-used jersey only a few months before his epic playoff performance; Forsberg own the puck and go through the entire Sabres team before dishing it to Eric Desjardins (one of my worst hockey memories followed four days later when the Sabres, up 3-2 in their first round series, destroyed the Flyers 7-1 in Philly); games in Ottawa, Buffalo and Boston in three consecutive nights. 

And of course, I cannot forget about my internship. The guys at THN were incredible to work with and every moment of my four months there was incredible. From sitting the the press box for the first time to playing in the Business of Hockey Cup (even though we finished last) on my last day, it was an experience I won't forget anytime soon.

There are moments in history I look up to as well. One Boylen left out was the Miracle on Ice. Sure, Canadians will try to tell you the Summit Series is the greatest moment, but there is a major difference between the two. Sure, they both went up against a hockey and real-world superpower and were able to come out victorious, but the Canadian team was made up of the best professionals the NHL had to offer. Meanwhile Team USA was made up of a bunch of ragtag college kids who only a few months earlier couldn't stand to be on the same ice as one another. They came together, beat all odds and were part of what many call the greatest sports moment in history. "Do you believe in miracles?" Hell yes I do.

The Soviets were the victim of another loss a few years earlier, this time to the Flyers. Many people disliked Philly for their rough and tumble (to put it lightly) style of play, but everyone was a Flyers fan on that night. The Flyers won 4-1 and sent the Soviets home. The Miracle on Manchester is an epic game I have on DVD and watch all the time. The Kings were underdogs to say the least and this game is perhaps the greatest single-game comeback in NHL history. There was Mario Lemieux's comeback from cancer (how many opposing players can say they got a standing ovation in Philly?); Primeau's goal in the fifth overtime against Pittsburgh; Petr Klima's third-OT goal against Boston during only his second shift of the extra frames after the power went out; and Paul Kariya's goal after being flattened by Scott Stevens in the 2003 final. 

These are just some of my favorite moments. There are so many to choose from as each year brings us more and more great stories and moments. Of course, the top hockey moments are not always good. Here are TSN's top infamous hockey moments and their top crazy moments of all-time, part one and part two.

What are your favorite memories? Leave a comment or let me know on Twitter.

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