Playoff Gameday At The UC: My View From The Cheap Seats

By Brian Kinkade

Finally!  Some hockey with some real meaning and with something seriously at stake!  Fans of the Chicago Blackhawks have been spoiled worse than a little kid visiting their grandparents for a weekend.  The Hawks have lead the league from the first game of the season all the way to the last.  In the playoffs however, anything can happen, and for the first time in a while, a legitimate sense of urgency has returned.

That sense of urgency is felt all around Blackhawks nation, and is significantly amplified while in attendance of a playoff game!

It must be said that watching a hockey game at on television is completely different than watching one in live-action at the stadium.  On television, you have the luxury of commentators analysis and a viewpoint that’s always zeroed in on the action.  That’s cute and all, but there is a gigantic abstract, unquantifiable element that hockey seen on television cannot capture.  This element completely overtakes you, when you’re in attendance, and it completely absorbs you in a playoff game.   Live-action hockey is felt, as well as seen.

The Hawks anthem singer, Jim Cornielison, is well-known for his stirring rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, before the puck-drop of Hawks home games.  The crowd goes crazy, and you know the story.  This night, game one of the first playoff series of the tournament for Lord Stanley’s Cup, was different.  The noise from the crowd was absolutely deafening.  There was enough energy flowing through the United Center to power the rest of Chicago.  The urgency of something at stake for the Blackhawks was back, and combined with the nearing possibility of the return of the Stanley Cup to the Windy City was enough to send the crowd into pandemonium.

During the game, the feeling of frustration from every bad pass, every missed opportunity, every stupid penalty from the Hawks, and the lone Minnesota Wild goal was transferred directly to the crowd, as every groan was in total unison.   During the first intermission, as the Hawks trailed the Wild 1-0, there was an eerie silence around the United Center.  It was almost hard to believe that this was the same place where the Star-Spangled Banner of epic proportions took place, less than an hour earlier.  I suppose sustaining that much energy through the whole night ma have eventually caused the ice to melt, so the intermissions work as a time to exhale and recharge for the next period.

As the second period was underway, the energy was building it’s way back up t where it was, when Marian Hossa, evened the game at 1-1, resulting in the crowd eruption and the blaring of Chelsea Dagger, the radioactive pulse of the crowd had returned, as well as some optimism.

The energy for the rest of the game caused every fan in attendance to plant themselves at the very edge of their seat, as the tension of knowing the just how big the ramifications of the next goal would be.  As the tensions pulsated through the crowd, it was reaching it’s breaking point as the game was headed to nearing it’s second overtime.  In retrospect this tension was a wonderful way for me to forget about the horrors of me having to wake up and prepare for school in matter of hours.  This throbbing tension amongst the collective 22,000+ people in attendance was relieved in the form of an explosion of positive endorphins, as Bryan Bickell  gave the Hawks the win and a 1-0 series lead over the Wild.  It wouldn’t have surprised me if every collection of glass in the U.C shattered at that very moment.

While it’s easy to say how great live playoff hockey is, it will always be an ill-fated attempt to convey precisely what it’s like to be there. The only way to actually understand this article, would be to attend a playoff game personally, and only then will you get what I’m talking about.  It’s an unsharable, yet unbelievable experience.

Let’s Go Hawks!!!