The Final Meatball Sub
Hockey makes me more emotional than a Hugh Grant romantic comedy, the evening of June 11th, 2012 being the epitome. That night, I cried myself dry. I celebrated with 18,000 fans, an entire organization, and one very deserving team while welcoming Lord Stanley's Cup to Los Angeles for the first time in the Kings’ 45 year existence.
A day had never felt so perfect. I vividly remember gripping my steering wheel tight on the ride down the 5 South to Staples Center day dreaming about what the winning celebrations would look like. Full of what I had hoped to be my last superstitious meatball sub, I blasted my pre-game tunes so loud…I'm surprised my hearing is still intact. Even this early on in the day I refused to believe we would let the Devils pull a game 7 out of their hats.
Walking into the building, a relaxed anticipation seemed to resonate throughout the entire staff. From the security guards who cleared my bags to the man who held the door after I had clocked in, I was greeted by permanently ear-to-ear grins plastered on all…awaiting a fate so close we could taste it.
Hard to believe that just two months prior we were fighting for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Now, we had blazed a trail of wins so hot, die-hards and skeptics everywhere could finally see the gleaming silver trophy at the end of the path.
Our pre-game duties seemed to whirl by. I rolled t-shirts in such a haze, styled my hair in such a blur and put on my uniform with so much on my mind, I can't believe it didn't end up backwards and inside out.
When game time had rolled around, I was a wreck! Win or lose, this was a last hurrah on many accounts. This marked the last home game of the season, and the last game in the careers of a few of my ice crew teammates. We all knew we needed to enjoy what little time we had left together.
First order of business: win this darn game!
If I had to pick a theme for what was about to ensue, it would be tears, tears, and more tears. I had just barely finished tightening up my skates when veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi took a game-changing hit. At the price of his bloodied lip, we found ourselves bestowed with a five minute major power play. Present that to an already emotional group of girls and let the tears roll.
Goal after goal after goal (literally) was scored. Every goal met by a roar from the crowd and screams from the Ice Crew. The hardest part about watching the game? Waiting until the end! Those first three goals set the tone for the rest of the game and only added to the cool confidence the team had come out swinging with. Intermissions were spent with low-key celebrating, trying to suppress our true excitement that was brewing.
Toward the end of the game, we knew the drill. Just as it happened in game 4, where a less than desired outcome was witnessed, the Stanley Cup was rolled in it's case to a room just feet from our holding area we've called home for the past 4 seasons. After we finished our last necessary TV-time-out shoveling, we were shipped off to the main concourse to make room for the crowd of media and NHL staff to enjoy the last five minutes of the third period with the fans.
With the best view in STAPLES Center, my teammates and I counted down the last 10 seconds of the game and watched our beloved Kings become the first eighth-seed team to ever win the Stanley Cup--a true cause to celebrate all night long…and that we did, tears included. Truly a day myself and the rest of the Kings fans of the world will never, ever forget.
Where were you that glorious night? And, where did you watch from? We always love hearing you all recount the win from your own perspectives…so, if you feel like sharing, please post away on our Facebook page!