Hockey was always the only sport that was able to catch, and keep, my attention. I enjoyed watching it over the years but lost interest when I found I was no longer invested in a team. When you don’t care if they win or lose, what’s the point of watching? Alas, the spark had fizzled.
So by the time the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics rolled around, the hockey girl in me was itching to see some men in uniform fire some rubber at each other. What better way to let her take a peek than to support my country? So, I got cozy and flicked on the television to see how Team Canada was making out during the quarter-finals.
They weren’t doing too shabby. I watched as they beat Latvia 2-1 and, considering out of the 25 man roster I knew only of Sidney Crosby, I was impressed that I managed to get into the game.
I followed Team Canada to the semi-finals. It was there that I began putting two-and-two together. Sure, the team was obviously really good. It is the best of the best after-all. But check out this goalie. A shutout over Team USA had me sitting up and taking notice.
My inner hockey-girl spark flickered.
The gold medal game couldn’t come fast enough for me. I had to see that goalie in action again. I watched in awe as he worked to continue his shutout streak - not surrendering a goal in the final 164 minutes and 19 seconds of the tournament. I was wiping drool from my chin by the third period.
He stopped 70 of 71 shots in those three elimination games, posted back-to-back shutouts, won the gold medal in a 3-0 victory over Sweden and wrapped up the tournament with a pretty little .971 save percentage and a .59 goals against average.
Who was this juggernaut?
He took off his mask, in what seemed like slow motion, and it was like seeing the hero behind the disguise.
I discovered that this thwarter of goals was the goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. Shortly after I saw the infamous message to fans to "Just relax. Just chill out." during the 2010 pre-season.
And that was when I fell in love with Carey Price. The hockey-girl spark became a flame.
I needed more. Luckily, the Canadiens were in the midst of a playoff run so my wish was granted. But I was strictly a Price fan. I wanted Price to win. I wanted to watch only Price spin his magic between the pipes. The rest of the team be damned.
That is, until my eye spied the spunky little 5’9 forward, Brendan Gallagher, trip the 6’9 gigantor, Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins, during a face-off. After the trip, with a look of innocence and what was soon to become known as "the Gally-grin", the chirping continued.
And that was when I fell in love with Brendan Gallagher.
Over the last few seasons, the insane skills of Alex Galchenyuk completed my love circle, I was happy when Max Pacioretty was named captain, I found myself praying that certain players wouldn’t be traded, and I was ready for any heated debate when someone dissed my team. Without realizing it, I had become a Habs fan.
My passion for the team grew and eventually developed a dislike for certain teams and players. And I’m talking the kind of animosity that Jerry Seinfeld had for Newman.
Which, let’s be honest, just adds to the fun of the game. The anticipation, the excitement and even the frustration, is what it’s all about.
The hockey-girl spark is now a blaze. I’m not just a Carey Price fan. I’m not just a Habs fan. I’m a hockey fan.