The last year and a half have been tough on everyone. No matter who you are or where you live, lifestyle changes have become the norm for everybody. One of those changes involved how we watch hockey. For many, watching the Golden Knights in person became a part of their weekly routine and it was suddenly taken away despite the games continuing to go on. Finally, towards the end of last season and into the playoffs fans were allowed back in the building and for many, it was incredibly meaningful to return.
One such fan is today’s Guest Post author, Lara Lee. A diehard Golden Knights fan who never misses a game and can constantly be seen banging on the glass at T-Mobile Arena (actually she’s a great hockey fan so she’s aware *not* to bang on the glass, but you get my point), Lara was in the building for the first time in over a year for Game 3 against the Avalanche. She recounts that night, one that meant so much more to so many people who finally felt like they were getting back to normal… which of course meant the Golden Knights winning at T-Mobile Arena.
Catharsis. That’s the word I keep coming back to. Being in T-Mobile Arena for Game 3 of the Vegas Golden Knights’ series against the Colorado Avalanche felt like catharsis for me and, I suspect, many in the building. The experience of being together and helping will our team to a desperately needed comeback win was a cleansing moment. It washed away the ache of missing an entire year of seeing hockey in person, washed away the frustration of being handcuffed by dubious officiating, washed away the agony of seeing the Golden Knights outplay teams without being rewarded. Finally, we were all in one place again, and we made it count.
The crowd was electric from the start. The “KNIGHT” yell during the national anthem was the loudest that I’ve ever heard. I got goosebumps, so I can only imagine its effect on the team. The Golden Knights came out flying, and I hoped that they would score quickly so that the crowd could exhale the breath it was holding. Instead, the tension built and built until William Karlsson finally put the puck in the net in the 2nd period. But the Avalanche tied the game before we could thoroughly enjoy our lead, and the stress returned.
You could feel the nerves running through the arena when the 3rd period began. We knew our guys were the better team on this night, but we’d seen this movie too many times to trust that would lead to victory. When Colorado scored a goal to take the lead, the air went out of the building.
There have been other games where the Knights fans, passionate as we are, have lost our fight when the team is trailing on the scoreboard. But something was different on that night. The team didn’t give up, and neither did the fans. We continued to exude all the energy that we could summon as the 3rd period went on.
And suddenly, Jonathan Marchessault (or, as I like to call him, Scrappy Doo) fought through two Colorado defensemen to bank the puck off the back of their nearly impenetrable goalie and into the net. Tie game. The crowd went crazy, and Scrappy Doo did a little leap and spin in his own excitement. That would have been remarkable enough. But 45 game seconds later, while arena announcer Bruce Cusick was still reading off the details of Marchessault’s goal, the catharsis really arrived.
I’ve been privileged to attend quite a few games at T-Mobile since 2017. I’ve also had the good fortune to go to many other sporting events, including two UNC-Duke basketball games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. And I promise you that I have never in my life heard a noise like the eruption of the crowd after Max Pacioretty scored the game-winning goal for Vegas. It was like standing next to a tornado. Just an absolute wall of noise. I was screaming as loud as I physically can, and I could barely hear myself.
We screamed through the goal announcement. We screamed through the TV timeout. We screamed when Marc-Andre Fleury made an unbelievable save, and then another, to maintain our lead. We screamed all the way out of the arena. It was a thing of communal beauty, an announcement to the world that we have survived the pandemic and the “bubble” and the Game 1 blowout and we are here to back our Golden Knights all the way to that Stanley Cup.
It was a night that I’ll never forget. And even though the playoff run ended far too soon, that game will always represent something very special to me. That game felt like pulling the sword from the stone for the first time all over again, proving that the Golden Knights fan base will never give up and never give in.
The catharsis was exhilarating; now we look to move forward with the slate clean and the sword of our support at the ready. GO. KNIGHTS. GO.
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