For sports fans of a certain income level, there are realistically only going to be a few times in your life that you can look back at and say "I was there for that."
Winnipeg, on Monday night, was one of those momentous occasions.
It's hard to accurately describe the nature of that MTS Centre. Smarter people than me have referred to it as primal; I think that's the best word for it. This wasn't just an exercise in who can cheer the loudest. This was some sort of exorcism - 15,000 people waving towels and cheering like the Jets' success depended on how loud fans could will themselves to be.
For every little thing that happened Monday, there was an ear-splitting cheer. They cheered the team coming out for warm-ups. They cheered for Mark Stuart on the jumbotron (Mark Stuart!). They cheered for Don Cherry in the corner, even though they had no idea what he was yammering on about. They cheered for sustained zone time. They cheered for failed hits.
Sure, that "if we're chanting, we're doing it together" attitude manifested itself poorly in the third period. It was mob mentality, and just as a riot starts with one man breaking a window, a sexist chant starts with one douche with a bad sense of humour. In hindsight, it was atrocious. In the moment, in the arena, it was the thing to be done.
That was just one part of the night, though. For fans, the whole thing felt like one long release after 20 years of tension and frustration. The Ducks didn't do the hype train any favours, but made the game more entertaining with not one, but four gut punch goals in regulation. The overtime one was devastating, but at that point, not altogether surprising.
Win or lose, it was amazing to watch a classic game unfold on the ice, then look up and see an entire arena in perfect congruity. Standing, waving, chanting. There was nothing disjointed on Monday. When Winnipeggers did it, they did it all the way. While the game itself was great, the atmosphere was unparalleled to anything I've seen or heard of. That's what I'll remember most.
My recap of Game 3 for ChrisD.ca can be found here.