By Joe Hiti
Joe Hiti sat in the same seat he had sat in all season. But his attitude for this game was different than any other game he had attended that season. This game meant a whole lot more than the others.
With his green number 11 Zach Parise jersey on he sat with his elbows on his knees. His head being supported by his hands. And his eyes wandering the arena in disbelief that a team, his team, could be losing by four goals through two periods.
Inside Xcel Energy Center you could hear the conversations from both teams on the ice from any seat.
“Skate with it”
“On net, on net ”
The players on the bench seemed to take notice at the fans sitting 12 rows back talking about what a joke the season had been.
And then it happened. Three minutes and 48 seconds into the third period Jared Spurgeon broke by his defender and scored his team’s first goal of the game.
Joe laughed “Way to put in the effort now” he yelled. Fans sitting next to him screaming. “You call that an effort, this is an elimination game.”
16 seconds later Jonas Brodin scores.
The arena cheers. Half still in their seats. “This game is over no way they can come back” he says to the same fans that had been sitting by him all season.
Then it happens. Four minutes and 34 seconds later. Jared Spurgeon scores again.
He jolted out of his seat, on to his feet, and gave a loud roar. They have a chance he thought as the goal chant played throughout the arena.
Then a moan of pain, anger, and sadness. Dallas scores. A shot attempt sores into the air over the net. He can see it happening. The puck hits the Wild goaltender in the back and bounces into the net. And they are again down by two. But now they have the fans again.
With five minutes left in the game Jason Pominville scores again to make it a one goal game.
“This is it we are gonna do it” he thought. Then it happened. One of the most controversial no goal calls he had ever seen. The replay on the board showed it. A shot from the middle of the ice trickled close to the line but the Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen from within the goal kicks it out.
There’s 33.9 seconds left. They are getting ready to drop the puck and then they show it. On the jumbotron flashes the goal camera. One picture. Showing the puck ever so close to the line. But the officials don’t move they don’t look at the play. The puck drops. And a few lackluster shots later and it’s over.
Sitting in disbelief of what had just happened Joe knew that this team would always be his team. Never would he give up on them again winning or losing.