Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Super Bowl Sunday at the Garden

Sunday, February 6, 2005
Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes

“Not a whole lot to write about yet,” says Boston Herald’s photographer, Matt West. His tools of the trade—a Mac PowerBook, camera, and lens as long as a Super Bowl halftime show—are encamped in the Herald/AMHL media section: Loge 12, Row 18, Seats 16–18. My equipment—a pen, the official Boston Bruins 2005-2006 game program and Game 26 insert with today’s roster—weighs much less than West’s accessories.

The Bruins are 2:41 into their Sunday matinee against the Hurricanes, and the Super Bowl kickoff is five hours away.

Fast forward almost three hours later. The Bruins are down, 2–3.

Bruins’ defenseman Brad Stuart ties the game with less than two minutes in regulation with a blast from inside the blue line. The game goes to Overtime.

Stuart’s stick—or what’s left of it—flips through the air, rising toward the Garden’s catwalks. He had just wound up for a potential game-winning goal, smacking the stick so hard against the ice that the blade and part of the shaft shot skyward, end-over-end like an Adam Vinatieri field goal attempt as the puck dribbled on to the stick of a waiting Carolina player.

By the time Stuart’s stick lands—just missing another Bruin—Stuart is skating backward near his blue line, trying to fend off three oncoming Carolina Hurricanes all by his lonesome, with only his body to block a shot or pass. The Carolina puck carrier passes the puck to teammate Frantisek Kaberle (older brother of Toronto’s Tomas). Frankie’s shot ticks the outside of the post, and the crowd breathes a sigh of relief. Had he put the puck on the other side of the pipe, Carolina would have won then and there.

The ‘Canes have plenty of other chances to score in OT, launching seven shots at Bruins’ backstop Timmy Thomas. The Eastern Conference’s first place team has fired forty-three shots at the B’s net this afternoon and will take at least three more.

In the shootout—the Bruins have lost all four previous fan-focused affairs—Thomas turns aside Erik Cole, surrenders a five-hole goal to Ray Whitney, and thwarts Rod Brind’Amour. The Bruins counter with Patrice Bergeron and Glenn Murray, who fail on their bids. Brad Boyes sneaks the puck between Carolina goalie Martin “Baby Face” Gerber and the post, forcing another round.

But Carolina newcomer Dougie Weight beats Thomas. Will Sergei Samsonov force yet another round? 15, 495 fans—some of them sporting Hartford Whaler jerseys to announce their allegiance to the team that moved from Connecticut to Carolina—rise, awaiting an answer. They want to see Sami score, but they don’t want to miss Tom Brady flip the commemorative Super Bowl coin.

Gerber stones Samsonov. Hurricanes win, 4–3. Fans file out the exits en route to Super Bowl parties or, in my case, home

The Seahawks win the coin toss (tails), and like the Bruins who earned a single point for making it to OT instead of two for winning the game, it’s small consolation.

Bruins Three Stars as voted by the AMHL Media…

3. Tom Fitzgerald (solid PK, 67% face-off winning percentage)
2. Andrew Albert’s (diligent defense, one assist)
1. Tim Thomas (did I mention 43 saves?)