I wrote this story for a creative writing class I'm in. Figured you guys might enjoy the read. It's a short fiction based on some real life characters, you guys'll know the names
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The overhanging lights beat down on twenty young souls, filling their hearts with the energy of an infinite army. The scent of sweat masked with old spice and baby powder looms through the room, a reminder of what it took to get this far.
The dressing room is a dungeon and the beasts will soon be released. Like a roman coliseum, tonight the Montreal Forum will play host to a battle for the ages.
Game seven of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the moment you play for all your life. I’ve been here before, I’d lend them my mind if I could, but sadly I’ve done all I can do. Tonight they must prove they’re worthy of this honour on their own.
Most nights I’d gather the troops for a pep talk. Give them their assignments and intimidate them with a threat. But tonight I say nothing, merely point to the scripture on the wall. “To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”
A hockey city’s been starved for too long, an impatient owner has given us our notice. This time it’s win or die, our jobs are on the line. I may be an old man, but despite what the critics tell me, I sure as hell haven’t lost it yet. I know these guys have it in them. I just hope they can put it all together, because with the pieces falling as they are, there won’t be another chance.
Five men dressed in red stand on a blue line saluting the glorious flag which hangs from the rafters. A pretty lady bellows out the anthem as fourty thousand palms sweat with anticipation. I look down at my leader, he’s given too much for it to end without glory. Fifteen years of sweat, blood and guts on the ice, four knee surgeries and a battle with cancer the doctors told him he wouldn’t survive. Saku Koivu wasn’t supposed to be here today, apparently he never got the notice.
Our opponents are the mighty Boston Bruins, the biggest and baddest of them all. Captained by big Joe Thornton, they’ve been favoured to win the cup all season long. Between the pipes the Bruins boast a familiar name. Jose Theodore was a god in Montreal for the past 10 years, but the money led him south last summer and he’s been our worst enemy all season long.
Early in the first things took a turn for the worse as youngster Andrei Kostitsyn blew up the left wing like we’d seen so many times in the past. Entering their zone Andrei cut for the middle of the ice with his head down. Bruin forward Patrice Bergeron met him with a vicious elbow to the face. Shades of the Kyle McLaren on Richard Zednik hit from 2002, as Kostitsyn was knocked out and sent to hospital for further examination. To add insult to injury Bergeron was not penalized and the physical play escalated.
Hulking blue liner Mike Komisarek took matters into his own hands late in the period as he sent Bergeron hard into the boards with a crushing check. The crowd erupted in boos as Komisarek was sent to the sin bin for roughing. With a two minute powerplay the Bruins went to work. Joe Thornton threaded a slick pass through the crease to teammate Sergei Samsonov who slid it by a sprawling Yann Danis for a one nothing lead.
The Bruins continued their pressure into the second frame peppering countless shots at Danis, but the first year starter stood tall. Midway through the second things got worse as assistant captain Steve Begin slid to block a point shot from Bruin defenseman Mark Stuart. The puck deflected off a stick into Begin’s face, bloodying our most fearless playoff warrior.
With Begin in the dressing room likely out for the game the Bruins continued their assault on our battered team. With just seconds left in the period Bergeron skated into the zone and blasted a rifle of a slap shot high stick side. Danis stuck out his blocker to make the save but Thornton was there to chip the rebound past him, giving the Bruins a commanding two goal lead after fourty minutes.
We’re down two goals in the final game of the season. I kept my mouth shut to this point, but no longer could I sit back and watch a tired team fall apart. So I let ‘em have it, I gave them everything I had, one after another I called them out. We all knew what this game meant, and we all knew what had to be done. By the time the ice dried for the third period to begin you could feel it in the air. No longer would we kneel down and have our dreams torn away from us.
Early in the third our top scorer and reigning league MVP Sidney Crosby streaked up the ice with his blinding stride. Faking inside and ripping outside around a defenseless Thornton, Crosby left him wondering what colour pylon he was. Dangling the puck past one defender and another, Crosby streaked to the net and wired a quick snapshot glove side over the shoulder of Theodore. The crowd erupted so loud that it felt like an earthquake inside the old forum walls.
With time winding down I tapped Sidney on the shoulder and the gates opened for the phenom to grace the ice once more. Crosby took a pass from smooth skating defender Andrei Markov in our zone and began his trek. Speeding by Bruins one after another, Crosby approached big Joe Thornton once more. A quick fake left and Crosby slid the puck through his legs, Thornton was had once again. Just as he began blowing by the big lug, Thornton turned and swung his stick in the air. After taking a criminal slash to the leg Crosby keeled to the ground. Thornton grabbed the puck and the whistle blew.
A powerplay with less than a minute left, if ever there was a moment we needed our top two forwards it was now. But both Crosby and Kostitsyn were out with injury, someone else would have to step up and make their presence felt. Saku Koivu looked up and gave me a nod, his old legs weren’t what they once were but I just had this feeling he’d be alright.
The puck dropped and Koivu won the draw back to Ron Hainsey at the point. Hainsey slid a cross ice feed to Markov who quickly let go of a one-timer. The shot was blocked and trickled into the corner. Koivu raced to the boards to retrieve the puck. Met by two Bruin defenders he cradled it with his stick and skated around the back of the net sending a pass along the boards to Mike Ribeiro. Ribeiro made a quick move around a Bruin and sent the puck to the point for Markov. Moving laterally towards the center of the ice Markov sent a low hard pass to the side of the net. Koivu was perched on the door step, with massive blue liner Hall Gill on his back. Sprawling to reach it, Saku deflected the puck through Theodore’s legs. Once again the Forum went nuts as the game was tied with seven seconds left in regulation.
Sixty minutes down, who knows how many await. The boys really stepped up in the third and our leader gave notice that he wasn’t done just yet. It’s time for sudden death overtime, the most intense pressure these men will ever know.
The Bruins come out with guns blazing to star the fourth frame. Obviously their coach had more than a few words to say to them after that collapse in the third. Bruins rookie Kyle Martin flies up the wing lacing a crisp pass just inside the blue line. Samsonov receives it with a full head of steam. Blowing around veteran Craig Rivet he lets go of a blast. The Puck hits the cross bar and falls. Danis drops to the ice and the celebration begins.
The Bruins pile over the boards and dogpile on the tiny Russian winger. I grab a stick and begin waving it furiously in the air. “That puck didn’t cross the line!” I call. The fans begin booing and things are tossed to the ice. The referees gather and decide to go upstairs for a video replay.
Five minutes pass, twenty thousand fans wait in silence. Suddenly the ref releases the phone at the penalty box and turns to make his call. “No Goal!” he shouts and waves his arms out twice to indicate the decision. The crowd cheers and the Bruins coach loses his mind. Thornton breaks his stick over the top of the net, and Bergeron wipes away tears on the bench. The tide has turned and there’s only one thing we need now.
Sidney Crosby emerges from the dark depths of the Forum stepping onto the ice. The crowd becomes so loud that women in the stands begin to cover their ears. The puck drops and the game is back on. Like a man possessed Crosby has the puck glued to his stick. Like a toy on a string he dangles it around one dumb dog then another, flying by the Bruins like the Rocket Richard.
Crosby’s in. One on one with Theodore, it’s a moment that will go down for all of hockey history. The crowd’s on their feet, the players are nearly falling over the bench. I close my eyes ‘cause I already know how this ends. Handling the puck left, then right, then left again. Moving so fast shards of ice fly into the air with each stride, Crosby comes in forehand. He quickly fakes a shot sliding the puck through the back of his legs to his back hand where he lets it go.
The twine bulges and the Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup! The Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup! Mayhem ensues and the party lasts for months. I never coached another game, and Saku never stepped foot on the ice again. But we know we were blessed that day. We brought hope back to hockey’s greatest city while witnessing the birth of a new hockey god.
WOW, gave me chills. On a day that I am really missing the game, wondering what Habs history could've been written today had we not been in this mess right now, that made me miss the game even more, and this coming from a writer myself.
Thanks guys. As for the forum question... it just adds to the story IMO. "The dark depths of the montreal forum" sounds a lot better than "the bell centre"... stupid naming rights have ruined all the classic names.