Saturday night in Chicago, thousands of adults — many of them strangers to each other — whole-heartedly embraced, high-fived and jumped for joy when Marian Hossa redirected Duncan Keith's shot to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Kings.
The goal would stand as the game winner, giving the Blackhawks first life in their best-of-seven NHL Western Conference Final. The emotion surrounding the goal was an amazing sight to behold.
The jubilation expressed by Hawk fans is not unique in sports venues. Watching sports provides us with an unbridled emotion rarely found in other aspects of our lives. Seriously, where else would you spontaneously burst into applause, turn to a person seated next to you and hug each other like long-lost relatives?
No disrespect intended, but that doesn't happen at live theatre productions, concerts or dance recitals.
Passion for the game
For whatever reason, sports bring out the passion that lives within everybody. And that's just as a spectator. Playing the game is even more about passion than watching.
That passion for the game has been on stage all week around St. John's and Mount Pearl as the World Ball Hockey Championships take place at Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay and Mount Pearl's Glacier. This sport, for those who have never seen it, is a fast, dynamic game that will bring fans out of their seats just like the fans in Chicago Saturday.
Played in ice hockey arenas, ball hockey makes that 200-foot floor seem like a football field. Unlike ice hockey, once your feet stop in this sport, your progress is halted immediately. It's an exciting game, especially played at the highest level. Conditioning and strength and strong hand-eye coordination are required to succeed. (Fans need to keep a close eye on the game, too, as the ball moves very quickly in this game.)
The one thing the players have in common at this event is the passion they have for the game. Like anybody who ever played ball hockey, you need to love the sport to play it. To get to this level, you really need the passion to play.
Newfoundland and Labrador will be well represented on both teams. The men's team has Mount Pearl's Terry Ryan and Pat O'Keefe, Bonavista native Andrew Sweetland, Justin Pender and Jordan Escott of St. John's and Robert Slaney from Upper Island Cove running the floor as well as Paradise's Chris Feltham manning the nets. Three women - Kristen Cooze of Kippens, Dawn Tulk from Deer Lake and St. Anthony's Amanda Kean - will wear Canadian red this week. Canadian coaching staffs are also dotted with local flavour.
The one thing all these players have in common is their passion for the sport. That'll be on display this week. It certainly was Sunday night in the team's opening contest, an 11-0 victory over Germany.
Another thing on display will be pride — the players' pride in wearing that Canadian jersey. Playing for your country has to be one of the ultimate thrills in sport.
A few years back, Jack Byrne Arena hosted the Canadian championship and fans who did flock to the rink were not disappointed, particularly the full house in attendance when Newfoundland Black Horse captured the national title. That was an exciting week of action, and no doubt Newfoundlanders were proud with the win.
Take the passion each player had representing his province, and multiply that by putting CANADA on his chest, and you have this week.
Make a point to get out and cheer on the home teams some time over the next few days. Who knows, maybe you'll high five a complete stranger.
Follow Don on Twitter @PowerPlay27