BLOOMINGBURG, NY– Amid all the chaos in this world and the passing of Tom Seaver, which Matt McCarthy covered so eloquently on Friday, later that day we were all reminded and treated to why sports fans tune into live games. There were two Stanley Cup Game 7’s where both Vancouver and Colorado clawed back from 3-1 series deficits and were one step away with the high stakes of the Western Conference Finals in front of the teams.
Two great stories unfolded and lasted well into that evening for me:
First there was Joel Kiviranta for the Dallas Stars—an un-drafted 24 year-old rookie forward (and that’s old for NHL freshmen) from Finland, tabbed late to replace a teammate deemed unfit to play earlier in the day. This is a guy with eleven career big league games and one goal under his belt. So what does he do? Scores his second goal of the game ten seconds after the much-depleted Avalanche took a lead late in regulation and seemed to punch a ticket to the Conference Finals.
As infomercial spokesman Billy Mays would proclaim, “Wait there’s more!” The 2nd story within a story is that Kiviranta tallied the series clincher in overtime to complete the hat trick and send the Stars onward. The last guy to score three times in a Game 7? Some guy named Gretzky. Hey, ya hoser… That’s pretty good company. I’m already trademarking the Fin’s new nickname… The Finnisher (TM). Let’s see if he can gun down the Golden Knights.
Oh, and Islanders outlasted the Flyers in their Game 7, blanking the Broad Street Bullies 4-0 behind “backup” goalie Thomas Greiss. The Isles got two goals from their defence (Canadian spelling), which held Philly to just 16 shots, 7 in the 3rd period. After two horrific losses, credit Barry Trotz for getting the Fish Sticks over the hump. Next up, Tampa.
The other story that unfolded Friday was the late game between the Canucks and Vegas. Thatcher Demko (kinda sounds like a television gumshoe if you ask me) is the Vancouver goal-tending understudy to Jacob Markstrom, who was ailing after Game 4 of the series. Demko is from the U.S. hockey hot bed that is San Diego, California. Say what? Boasting the best fish tacos – that JG Clancy would love – there’s arguably no worse sports town than SD, with zero championships among the Padres and Chargers in a place made famous by Ron Burgundy.
Thatcher’s amazing run lasted three games in which he was the number one star in each. The kid stopped 130 of 132 shots and got no run support from his mates in the Game 7 defeat, where he gave up a lone power play goal off of an extremely well-placed shot and screen in front. His play was simply amazing and great to witness.
And with that, I’m out. Come back tomorrow for Junoir Blaber, who stars in this: